Learning platform launched for digitally excluded Roma

The Deaconess Foundation and its partner organisations from Italy, North Macedonia and Serbia have launched a learning platform for improving Roma adults’ digital skills. The platform provides free resources and opportunities for both individuals and organisations working with the digitally excluded.

The Digital Inclusion for Roma Adults: Gaining Knowledge and Skills in eServices (DIRA) project aims to provide IT education to digitally excluded Roma to support them in the use of electronic services and hence becoming better included in their societies. To meet the project aims, the consortium has planned and developed accessible and easy learning tool via the DIRA learning platform that can provide people with possibility to learn digital skills in the practical manner.

The platform unravels support, free resources, and opportunities for adult education, creating space for improving Roma adults’ digital skills. ‘”The platform provides free resources and opportunities for individuals and organisations on the frontlines of marginalisation and exclusion. We have prioritized easy and accessible learning’’, professor Nikola Rendevski from the Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies (FIKT) in Bitola said, introducing the platform to the participants from DIRA partner countries who had gathered in Bitola for a training of trainers. The FIKT took the technical lead of the platform development process.

Upon return, the trainers will train Roma adults in digital skills by using the platform. The goal is to equip them with everyday digital skills that will lead to better access to rights and opportunities in the society. This type of learning represents an important tool for investment in intellectual capital and inclusion of the Roma in the socio-economic structures of society.

Survey uncovered high levels of digital exclusion

Earlier in 2022, the consortium survey had uncovered high levels of digital exclusion among Roma adults in Finland, Serbia, Macedonia and Italy. The study showed that Roma adults are hardly using available IT tools for e-services provided by public and private institutions. It was noted that the Roma communities in each partner country seriously lack knowledge on basic knowledge in computer, digital skills and the use of e-services like checking out medical appointments, filling online forms (e.g., tax forms and social services forms), using electronic banking systems, performing online payments, filling service requests, online shopping etc.

A total of 160 Roma adults will be provided with the training by Spring 2024. The training empowers the participants in three primary areas, reducing the digital gap for socio-economic empowerment of the Roma adults.

  • Awareness: Though the participants have had very little contact with digital technologies, they are aware of the potential of digital technologies for enhancing their knowledge. The new participants need guidance and encouragement to expand their repertoire and to apply their existing digital competence.
  • Exploration: Depending on their exposure and knowledge, the participants will be able to automate their basic learning from computer, mouse clicks, keyboard inputs, words and data entry and integrate them as needed in everyday life.
  • Expertise: Structured sessions will enable participants with everyday digital life skills enhancing their digital expertise.

Funded by the Erasmus+ program, the Digital Inclusion for Roma Adults: Gaining Knowledge and Skills in eServices (DIRA) project involves five international partners Romni-APS (Italy), Udruženje gradjana Djurdjevdan (Serbia), Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies (North Macedonia), Sumnal (North Macedonia) and Deaconess Foundation (Finland). The program offers partner countries opportunities to upgrade knowledge in the improvement of the socio-economic state of Roma adults via non-formal adult education.