IT expert criticizes €275,000 HARNO young person's website

Computer keyboard (pic is illustrative).
Computer keyboard (pic is illustrative). Source: Priit Luts/ERR

An IT systems architect has criticized a platform being set up by a state agency, at a cost of €275,000, which is aimed at fostering young people's ideas and proposals. The IT expert says the manner in which the platform is being set up is little more than a waste of money.

The €275,000 funding for the system, to be used by the Education and Youth Board (HARNO), mostly derives from the EEA and Norway grants scheme.

The lion's share of the €275,000 budget will be spent on the development of the web environment, which HARNO plans as a platform which would involve young people in local governments activity.

IT systems architect Andres Kütt says he believes the project is inefficient in its conceptualization, and focuses too much on expensive technical solutions.

Kütt told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "Not a single IT person I've talked to has found that it should even cost as much as it does /.../ The attempt is to resolve some kind of substantive issue, but via an IT solution. This is a highly typical, but very poor practice."

One of the ways in which the project is ill-conceived is in that it doesn't differentiate among a wide range of age groups which could all be considered as "young people," Kütt went on.

"How do you get a seven-year-old and a 26-year-old to work in the same environment? As someone online aptly put it, from hide-and-seek to university studies, people are going to have problems."

Simply building the environment is only the beginning, Kütt added. Management of the platform, moderating comments, producing content etc. are ongoing tasks which would need to be carried out, too, he said.

Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev (Reform) says the content and budget of the project should be the subject of review.

The minister told AK that: "It had caught my attention and, yes, a message was then sent to the Minister of Education (Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200)-ed.) that perhaps it would be worth looking into. /.../ The worry is that it will not help the municipality in question, but will not address young people either. Regardless of whether we are using external funds, or state funds, we have to to see that these get used as effectively as possible."

The Ministry of Education and research, however, says it does not intend to terminate the project, whose remit includes access for the disabled and exercise facilities for young people.

HARNO chief Roger Tibar said: "The areas [covered by the system] can really cover all bases. They can be related to, for example, young people with mobility disabilities who cannot access municipal-run facilities.

It could also relate to calls for new cycle lanes, or to an outdoor gym or, why not , self-initiated projects," explained

As for the €275,000, Tibar said: "Before we put up the tender, we talked to the experts about what the sum might be, and their answer was that for such large-scale developments, this is by no means the maximum amount that could have been spent on this."

HARNO says the platform is intended for young people between the ages of seven and 26, who both submit and share their ideas via the online environment, and give feedback on the ideas others have placed their.

Then, if a proposal garners enough "likes," the relevant municipal government will start discussions on whether it can potentially be implemented.

The Ministry of Education and Research declined to provide comment to AK, adding that they are reviewing the cost and content of the project's activities.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Grete Teearu.

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