‘Citizens matter’: A Strong Message From the Slovak Ministry of Interior to Local Governments

by Participation Factory

For more than one year now, Participation Factory has been closely associated with the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, in particular with the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for the Development of Civil Society. As expert guarantors, we accompany regional teams of participation coordinators in the systemic setting of the agenda. We help them identify priority agendas, design participatory public policy-making processes, and optimize internal processes.

However, our activities represent only a part of the large national program NP PARTI 2: National Project Supporting Partnership and Dialogue in Participatory Public Policy Making 2, which aims to professionalize public administration staff in the field of participatory planning, optimize the management of participatory processes, standardize monitoring and evaluation of the quality of participation, and increase the participation of NGOs in the design and implementation of public policies.

To address the first objective above, the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary had launched a series of online training seminars called Citizens Matter. It offered a wide range of topics in the field of participatory planning and presented practical approaches to participation in relation to specific areas of local government. By combining theory and practical examples, it offered information and insights to local government staff on the ways, methods, and possibilities of participation completely free of charge.

With this online training, which combines various educational formats, the Office responds to the need to provide an attractive range of events for representatives of local authorities, civil society, NGOs, and the general public. They believe that the key to real change is to provide support for capacity building and professionalization of participation practice, as well as targeted awareness raising on participation. The program therefore provides a wide range of free formats and focuses on:

  • raising awareness on participation through events, workshops, seminars and training programmes,
  • providing training on participation,
  • increasing participation of the unorganized public,
  • sharing existing knowledge on participation including theoretical and good practices in participation.

The online seminars had been popular and were regularly watched by dozens or even hundreds of viewers not only on Zoom but also through online streaming on YouTube. The thirty or so seminars that had taken place have covered topics such as energy sustainability and participation, participation and social assistance for people with disabilities, and crisis assistance for people from Ukraine. There was also a three-part series called Modern Civil Service that focused on active civil servants looking for new approaches to work. More than 8,000 people viewed the seminars that featured some 150 guest speakers. A significant number of them regularly participated in discussions and feedback.

All in all, we are happy to see the enormous effort that the Ministry of Interior in Slovakia puts into mainstreaming the participation agenda at all levels of governance and we look forward to its further activities in this area. The Czech government definitely has a lot to learn from its neighbor ­čÖé

All online seminars can be found free to watch on the NP PARTI USV ROS YouTube channel.