We refuse to fill in forms
Typewriters are outdated and so are online forms to have access to public information. But our Catalan Government, that likes showing off about transparency, hasn’t found out about this yet.
It all started with a tweet:
— Govern. Generalitat (@govern) March 15, 2015
“The Government will offer 1.077.548 school places in year 2015-2016, 3.515 more than last year”. Together with a graph and some data about number of places for each level:
The Departament of Education groups together state schools and state-subsidized (private schools that receive money from the Generalitat of Catalonia) under the euphemism “public-funded schools”. We wanted to know more about the previous data: how many were in state schools and how many in state-subsidized schools. So we called and email the Press and Communication (yes, Communication) section of the Education Departament with this only question:
“Ens agradaria saber respecte a aquesta informació i les dades que adjuntem, quantes d’aquestes places de cada nivell són a centres públics públics i quantes a centres concertats que reben diners públics. Restem a l’espera de la vostra resposta.”
Their disappointing answer to our request to break down six numbers into twelve numbers took a week to arrive: “The Communication Department does not deal with the data you requested. We forward your request to the corresponding Unit and we recommend that you request it by filling in the following form
Oh well, we are not going to fill a form and ten boxes to access information that we have a right to know about how the government uses our money (and invests it on whatever type of school) . They are just managing citizens’ money. It is not theirs.
We are not filling in a form for four reasons:
1- because international standards, the agreement of the Council of Europe about Access to Public Documents, establish that only a name and an email are necessary to request public information.
2- because requesting public information should be easy and fast and any form to fill in is an obstacle for lots of people not to exercise their right to know.
3- because email is the means we all use to communicate and the public administration should adapt and use it, if it wants to be -as it says- were the citizens are. And finally, because if I fill in that form
4- there won’t be any public register —for me or for other people— of what I wanted to know. Nobody will know that I am expecting an answer. Here there will.
More about education: