About the open governance of MESTI

Open Data Kosovo
4 min readApr 19, 2023

From: Shqipe Gjocaj

Education, science, technology, and innovation are among the areas where open data is essential so that knowledge is promoted not only as a public good but also as a public interest. In order to achieve this, organizational and institutional transparency is required from the relevant institutions, easily accessible information, genuine digital services, as well as appropriate communication tools with citizens, experts, media, or other parties.

The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) exists to develop and advance education, scientific research, the promotion of innovation and technological development. How open the Ministry is to the public, we understand from the periodic and detailed assessment of Open Data Kosovo (ODK) for the open governance of the country’s institutions.

For 2021, ODK assesses MESTI with an overall result of 64%. To arrive at this overall assessment, ODK started from the four principles of the Regional Open Government Index such as transparency, access, integrity and awareness. The principles in question evaluate the work and political will towards open data and transparent governance.

ODK estimates that there is a good basis for opening the Ministry to the public. The official website of MESTI is constantly updated with press releases, documents, reports and official strategies. The data in question is provided in two official languages of the country and the contacts of the officials responsible for communication with the public are available.

However, there is a lack of information and access to other issues without which one can hardly talk about open governance of the Ministry in question. For example, budget transparency, as one of the key indicators of real transparency, is not reflected on the website of the ministry. Also, data about public procurement such as open requests for offers, decisions and contracts, and other important data are missing.

Access to information enables citizens, researchers, students, CSOs, media, and other actors to participate in the activity of an institution. The Law on Access to Public Documents obliges institutions to designate a person who will routinely review requests received from the public and create an official electronic address that is used only for communication with the public.

As long as this legal obligation is implemented, in the annual report the reasons why certain requests were rejected or remained unanswered reflect the shortcomings. This is because the ministry lacks a training or guidance mechanism for civil servants to assess the materials and fulfill their respective obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

Created by the Office for Good Governance within the Office of the Prime Minister, the Public Consultation Platform serves for the online publication of all documents necessary for consultation by the ministries on certain issues. Consultation reports are also published on the same platform.

But MESTI lacks a procedure through which citizens and interested parties could oppose the decisions made or get clarifications about them. This tool would enable the public to actively participate in decision-making and would strengthen the quality of institutional accountability within MESTI.

As for the quality of accountability, the MESTI must provide information and concrete tools to prove that it is an institution with integrity. One of them is the publication of the internal anti-corruption policy and measures to prevent various forms of corruption and unethical behavior within the institution. For more, the Ministry should publish the annual work program, provide information about the person, including names, positions, resumes, scope of work in the institution.

At the moment, citizen trust in MESTI is “somewhat’’ satisfactory. This is assessed through a survey by ODK in cooperation with UBO Consulting for the work of MESTI. The same survey points out that only a small group of people believe that they can contribute to the work of MESTI. This proves that the Ministry should work more in terms of communication with citizens, think of effective means of communication because citizen trust in institutions and their participation in decision-making are important indicators not only of the governing culture in the country but also of functional democracy.

Considering that as an institution MESTI enables and promotes the development of education, science, technology and innovation and is responsible for the development of a comprehensive and non-discriminatory plan for the advancement of the fields in question, it has responsibilities and still a lot of work to do for it to ensure open and accountable governance.

Open governance in MESTI is achieved with improved transparency in the field of procurement, with the publication of personnel data and their expertise, with the publication of public officials’ salaries, the annual work report, and the improvement of communication with citizens. For the latter, the Ministry should provide space and tools, such as a form on the official website of MESTI where citizens can express themselves, oppose certain decisions, or complain about specific issues.

This article is part of the “Boost Good Governance 3.0” project supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and implemented by Open Data Kosovo. The content of the material is the sole responsibility of Open Data Kosovo.