The public procurement process for a website aimed at young people has been canceled, Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) says.
The project, overseen by state agency Education and Youth Board (HARNO) came under fire after critics said it was not an efficient use of a €275,000 grant, the bulk of which came from the Norway and EEA grants program.
This does not mean the website project is completely dead and buried, however.
HARNO says it will now review the plan for creating the youth participation portal, involving experts and specifying finance options, while the site development remains on hold for the meantime.
Minister Kallas said all expenditures made by the state must be reviewed with a critical eye, and very concrete goal-setting is needed.
Kallas said: "Undoubtedly, young people need to be included in discussions on society, but the way to do this is not via a website, but by granting rights to young people."
"I recommended HARNO halt the procurement of the announced online platform, in order to review the activities planned within the project and to consult additional experts, who could help propose the best ways to include young people," the minister went on.
The platform development forms up one part of the "Nutikad lahendused noorsootöös" ("Smart solutions in youth work") project, as noted mostly funded by grants from the EEA and the Norwegian state.
As reported by ERR News, the idea was to host proposals from young people, which would then be evaluated by young people themselves, with a view to the most popular projects being realized.
The original plan was for the site to go live in April 2024.
Kristina Kallas had said that while the HARNO project may well need re-purposing, revising the external funding issue was outside of her remit as minister.
Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev (Reform) said that the financing schemes of such projects could be one area for review in the quest for state budget savings as the 2024 budgetary process gets underway.
Beyond the financing issue, critics had noted that the site in its proposed guise did not seem to differentiate between young people aged, for instance, six, and those in their late teens or early 20s, as well as the practice of trying to solve issues via ill-conceived tech solutions.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Grete-Liina Roosve