How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.
As I said last year, it is sometimes hard to encapsulate the full meaning of “GovTech” in a few words, but in short it is helping the tens of thousands of institutions – from schools to ministries – and millions of officials, constantly generating an unfathomable number of ideas on how to make their area of expertise more innovative and open.
We do this as a cross-ministerial task force answerable to the Prime Minister and operating out of his office. Our objective is to ensure that every public institution wishing to offer better digital solutions to their partners receives any assistance – from consultancy to legal affairs – it needs.
At the same time, there are several areas of focus and perhaps key among them is education and science. Thanks to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister of Education and Science Przemysław Czarnek, we were able to kick off a number of projects that aim to make Poland’s education system more digital and innovative. Our team’s objective is to deliver that change.
What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?
It is difficult for me to choose one of the projects because they are all equally important to me. However, I think that the project devoted to education influenced me the most. This is not only a new challenge, but above all, it has an impact on the lives of millions of students, teachers, parents and the entire school community. Just to visualise this scale – Poland has about 38 million inhabitants and 5 million school students. If you add to that 500 000 teachers, 1,2 million students and the close relatives of all these groups, you end up with educational initiatives having a direct impact on the lives of about two-thirds of Poland’s population. This is a tremendous opportunity and one that I am very excited to work on.
What’s your favourite memory from the past year?
There is a small town surrounded by forests in north-western Poland that was quite tragically affected by a massive storm a few years back. We’re talking about the magnitude of 30 000 emergency services interventions in the span of a few days. This is why, together with other institutions we have decided to plant a tree for every volunteer who decided to devote their time to helping the elderly digitally during the pandemic. The sheer number of trees was quite astonishing and a testament to how committed our societies can be to showing solidarity with those worst affected.
What are your priorities for 2022?
If there is one thing we have learned from the pandemic, it is that successful digital transformation doesn’t only revolve around wires and screens, but also – perhaps more importantly – around skills and education. This is why our key challenge for the upcoming year (and, frankly, quite a few years after that) is to use the experience we have gained while working in many sectors to deliver the change in both “what” we teach the future generations and “how” we do it.
We’re off to a decent start on that front. Starting with the upcoming school year, every primary school in Poland will receive a number of innovative tools as part of the government’s largest investment in modern education in history – the “FutureLabs” programme. Thanks to that, every school in the country will be equipped with 3D printers, microcontrollers, AV devices and more. This is of course only one step towards an education system that makes the future generations more digital-native, creative and able to problem-solve and work together, but we are committed to making many more.
What gets you up in the morning?
No changes here – an awareness of how much needs to be done and the drive to do it.
And an alarm (sometimes).