Building the open society in Romania
The Association Center for Public Innovation (CIP) is an organization established in 2014 as a spin-off of the Foundation for an Open Society Romania (which closed down two years later, in 2016).
CIP’s mission is to build the open society in Romania.
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CPI is as the lead NGO working on open government in Romania, recognized by both civil society partners and the government. CPI is currently holding the secretariat of the Open Data Coalition, a civil society platform advocating for open data and open government in Romania.
In 2018, despite the difficult political context, we continued to participate at the co-creation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the Open Government Partnership (OGP). We were the main civil society organization actively participating in the public debate, and six of our proposals were accepted and included in the final NAP.
We have supported the Municipality of Iași (second largest city of Romania, after the Capital) to join the OGP Sub-national program. The application submitted by Iași, in partnership with CPI and the local NGO, CIVICA, was accepted, and now Iași is one of the 20 sub-national governments, members of OGP.
Our work on Open Education and Open Educational Resources (OERs) is closely connected but goes beyond to the efforts on Open Government. The commitments on Education remain present in the OGP NAP. CPI holds the secretariat of the Coalition OER Romania, which is the national civil society partner in this topic.
In 2018, we made very good progress with our advocacy work on mainstreaming OERs in the public education system:
- By the end of November 2018, 40 out of the 42 County School Inspectorates have opened OERs sections on their websites, and have implemented procedures to collect and publish resources from teachers. The teachers who submit resources receive „career points”, which is a nice stimulus for them. Based on our estimation, there are over 5.000 resources available, submitted by more than 2.000 teachers.
- Ministry of Education maintains its commitment to implement it, under the new OGP NAP, the National OER Repository.
- Under a large EU-funded project, the Ministry will deliver training on digital skills and copyright for 55.000 teachers, in addition to creating at least 7.200 new OERs.
- The Textbooks Bill now includes the definition of OERs (based on UNESCO’s definition). The parliamentary process was not completed because of a procedural error but we expect it to finish by the end of June 2019.
CPI is becoming a reference point for migration policy in Romania. We the national partner of the strategic EU-funded project NIEM (NIEM – National Integration Evaluation Mechanism. Measuring and improving integration of beneficiaries of international protection), which is a trans-national project covering 16 states and including 20 partners, financed by the European Commission. The aim of the project is to mainstream an integration evaluation mechanism into the integration policies for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection at the national level in the participating project countries. The six-year project represents both an element of financial and organizational stability for the organization, as well as an opportunity to establish itself as a source of information on migration policy in Romania.
In 2018, CPI took over the secretariat of the Coalition for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees (CDMiR), the main (and single) platform of the civil society organizations advocating for the rights of migrants, or offering direct services.
Democratic institutions and political parties
CPI is linking advocacy and monitoring to close the policy circle on political rights in Romania. Starting with 2015 the political parties’ law allows the creation of new parties by only three citizens (compared with the 25.000 before). This is the result of an advocacy campaign conducted by a coalition „Politics without Barriers”, formed by CPI together with other civil society organizations/actors. It is expected, and desired, that some of the local civic groups will create local parties and will get engaged in politics as a mean to advance their agenda. However, the legislation is still including several barriers to the participation of smaller parties and their financing.
In 2018, we started a new research project, called the Encyclopedia of Political Parties. Our aim is to document and present to the public information about all the 147 parties legally registered. We want to continue it in 2019, in partnership with the Faculty of Political Sciences from the Bucharest University.
Support for other networks and platforms
We strongly believe that the power of civil society lays in our ability to work together. CPI has developed strong advocacy and research skills, and we are offering them whenever other colleagues need expertise. We are particularly proud of our involvement in successful nation-wide campaigns:
- #Respect – The platform for Rights and Liberties was created by the progressive civil society as an ad-hoc response to the proposal to amend the Constitution (to redefine the marriage). The main message was that Rights and Liberties cannot be subject to voting. #Respect asked (among others) for the boycott of the Referendum on family. As a result, the 30% validation threshold was not reached, and the amendment was rejected. CIP is one of the founding members of #Respect. Our role was to coordinate the research (opinion polls) and analyse the statistical data available, to inform the communication team.
- #OameniNoi (New People in Politics – Oameni Noi în Politică) is an initiative of the civil society asking for continuing the electoral reform to allow refreshing the political class. It is also a citizens’ initiative, aiming to gather 100.000 signatures between November 2018 and February 2019, so the Parliament will start the procedures on the proposed measures. The initiative is very close to reaching its goal. Our role was to analyze the existing legislation and draft the proposed bill, in a small working group of experts.
Research in Moldova
We are using our research skill not only to support other organizations but also to increase our visibility, and, when possible, as consultancy services. We were particularly successful in working with organizations from the Republic of Moldova in several projects:
- The study on Church and State in the Republic of Moldova (Soros Foundation Moldova)
- Research on Youth involvement in the civic life (Soros Foundation Moldova)
- Analyses and roadmap of Human Rights Education in the public education system in Moldova (Promo-Lex Association)
- Analyses of the media coverage of the World Congress of Families in Moldova (Platzforma.md – to be published soon).