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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

New technology initiatives take off

A PERSONAL finance e-learning programme aimed at high school students has received two awards at a competition for electronic education.

E-learning programme wins education awards


A PERSONAL finance e-learning programme aimed at high school students has received two awards at a competition for electronic education.

Get to Know Your Money: The Management of Personal Finances was recognised at the fourth annual International Conference on E-learning Technologies and Applications (ICETA) conference for "e-learning in practise". It placed second in the online course category, and it also picked up a special prize from the Education Ministry for the project with an extraordinary contribution to education, the SITA newswire wrote.

The programme, organised by the Foundation for Children of Slovakia and its partners, is already in its seventh year. It helps students understand the basic financial products they meet in everyday life, which play a big role in the functioning of a family.

The project was created to shift attention to the lack of financial education in Slovakia, especially in the area of personal financial management.

The programme was recognised for bringing a meaningful and systematic style of real-life learning to schools, with a new style of lessons that students find attractive and motivating.

Currently, 68 schools from across Slovakia take part in it. More than 5,000 students have completed the programme so far, and 138 teachers have been trained to run it.

The ICETA conference took place in September in Stará Lesná.


IT Oscars handed out


THE CEO of T-Systems Slovakia, Jozef Ondáš, has been named the country's IT Personality of the Year.

A jury of journalists and members of IT and telecommunications professional associations awarded Ondáš for his personal contributions in gaining 500 employees for the company's branch in Košice, the Pravda daily wrote. He was also recognised for his work on the IT Valley project, which is expected to bring added-value jobs to eastern Slovakia and contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in this region.

The awards were handed out on September 27 by the poll's organisers - the IT Association of Slovakia, and The PC Revue Infoware magazine, during the IT Gala ceremony.

The poll is in its seventh year. This year, 70 personalities, companies and projects entered the contest.

Asseco Slovakia was named the IT Company of the Year. It was honoured for its successful entry into the Warsaw Stock Exchange, becoming the first Slovak firm directly quoted in a foreign stock exchange.

Asseco has been operating in Slovakia since 1999, supplying information systems to financial institutions, the public sector and commercial companies.

The IT Project of the Year was Orange Slovensko's project of directly linking households to a fibre optic network. The technology will let clients access high-speed internet and use modern digital services.


Košice City Hall tests electronic ID system


TESTING has begun on a new security system using electronic identification cards at Košice City Hall.

The electronic access system was installed in September and testing for employees and visitors started in mid-October, city spokesperson Jana Geročová told the SITA newswire.

The system was installed by the AFSPIN Košice company, which was chosen from three companies in a tender.

"The city expects the system to cost up to Sk300,000 (€9,000),"Geročová said. "We purchased card readers, software and ID cards for all the employees. The price of one ID card is about Sk41 without VAT."

Employees have each received an ID card, which they use to electronically record their arrival and departure. The card also serves as an automatic door-opener.

Later, the card will be connected to the personnel department, which will make it easier to check how many hours employees work.

The creation of the Office of First Contact at City Hall last year greatly helped control visitors' access to the building, as well as helping them find their way around and find the department they need. The new system will also improve transparency and help simplify visitors' movement around the building, the city says.

Visitors who cannot be served in the first contact office get an ID card at the reception desk, which lets them open the doors leading to the building's internal hallways. When they use the card, they are also registered in the system, which makes it easier to track their movement in the building. When they leave, they return the card and the system automatically signs them off.


Žilina Region website now accessible for the blind


FROM NOW on, visually impaired citizens can also go online to learn about news in the Žilina region and local government decisions.

The Žilina Region has made its website, www.zask.sk, accessible for blind and visually impaired people, the SITA newswire wrote on September 14.

"The common user will hardly notice any change, but the documents and pictures had to be adapted in a way that reading devices for the blind or visually impaired can manage," region spokesman Peter Kubica told SITA.

Under the main menu on the website, users can click on the Blind Friendly icon to switch to the text version of the website. This lets special software read the text on the site.

The Blind Friendly website project was a result of courses on computer technologies for the visually impaired.

The regional office has already published printed material in Braille and made audio cassettes with basic information about the region and its powers.


Slovakia lags behind on high-speed internet


ONLY seven percent of people in Slovakia use high-speed or broadband internet - the fifth-lowest number in the European Union.

That's according to a Brussels report about the growing differences between the EU countries in broadband internet use, the Hospodárske Noviny daily wrote.

Only Poland, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria - the last-place country, with about five percent - were behind Slovakia. In Denmark, on the other hand, more than 37 percent of citizens use high-speed internet.

A lack of economic competition and legislative flaws are considered to be the biggest hurdles to expanding Slovakia's high-speed access.

The Slovak government is well aware of the situation.

"The state will try to cover most of the 'blank sites', which will not be covered by commercial internet providers because they are not attractive enough," said the government proxy for an information society, Pavol Tarina. "It is not easy, but we will try to solve this problem gradually. We also expect to be helped by resources from the operational programme for the informatisation of society (an EU programme)."

The bleak numbers are also caused by the fact that many people have little motivation to get the internet, as the games and entertainment on offer are often not attractive enough for them.

"Although the situation is much better now than it was several years ago, we still have much to improve in making relevant and useful content accessible, for example, in the area of electronic access to offices and authorities," said Peter Tóth, spokesman for Orange Slovensko.


Two IT companies in line for Sk118-million in subsidies


THE CENTRE of Labour, Social Affairs and Family is giving two IT companies subsidies worth nearly Sk118.5 million (€3.6 million) to create new jobs and train employees, the centre told the SITA newswire in September.

Soitron, one of Slovak's biggest IT service providers and information-communication companies, is in line for a Sk60-million subsidy to create new jobs. It will also get Sk14 million to educate its employees.

Ness Slovakia, which provides complex IT solutions and services for Slovak clients, will get a Sk36-million subsidy for new jobs, and another Sk8.5 million for employee education.

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