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Education Minister pays millions for suspect e-learning courses

Education, Science, Research and Sports Minister Dušan Čaplovič has allocated almost €28 million to a national requalification project for already employed people, which – apart from other things – includes e-learning courses on goat- and sheep-rearing and facial massage, independent MP (ex-Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, SDKÚ) Miroslav Beblavý said March 11. The e-learning courses alone should cost €12.4 million, which according to Beblavý is more than the ministry allocates for all textbooks in Slovak schools. MP added that the national project involves a post-box company close to the ruling Smer party.

Education, Science, Research and Sports Minister Dušan Čaplovič has allocated almost €28 million to a national requalification project for already employed people, which – apart from other things – includes e-learning courses on goat- and sheep-rearing and facial massage, independent MP (ex-Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, SDKÚ) Miroslav Beblavý said March 11.

The e-learning courses alone should cost €12.4 million, which according to Beblavý is more than the ministry allocates for all textbooks in Slovak schools. MP added that the national project involves a post-box company close to the ruling Smer party.

“With Dušan Čaplovič, a scenario is being repeated in which a national project brings schools only very little while money is wasted - or I dare say stolen by officials and chosen contractors. But this project is extreme in this respect, as it delivers nothing to schools at all,” Beblavý said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The national project, called “Continuing Education and Counselling for Adults as a Tool for Better Employability on the Labour Market”, has been carried out by the National Institute of Lifelong Learning and is largely financed from EU funds. According to Beblavý, the Institute has already placed three big orders within the project without tenders. One of the orders, for example, concerned a media and campaign plan worth €239,000. It was given to a company named Media Impact Solutions.

“This firm based in Brezno is owned by a post-box company in London," said Beblavý. The company which has recently changed previously received another state order from state-run health-insurer Všeobecná zdravotná poisťovňa (VšZP) and was also successful in the Košice-European Capital of Culture 2013 project.

“It's a firm with a very good relationship with Smer representatives,” Beblavý said, adding that a total of €3.7 million within the national project will be spent on campaigns.

About 5,500 people will be educated in 40 courses within this project, at about €6,000 per person, the Sme daily wrote.

Education Ministry spokesman Michal Kaliňák called Beblavý’s claims nonsense. Educational programmes were created in line with the needs defined by representatives of employees and the education sector.

“In total, 45 training programmes with 124 modules have been created,” Kaliňák told TASR. the training programme for goat-breeders is one of 124 modules created in line with a request from the Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber that reflects recent requirements in the agricultural sector.

Almost €13 million of the project has already been allocated. Beblavý told Sme that there this happened without a public tender.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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