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The School of Data Macedonia website is live!

- June 5, 2015 in Events, Fellowship

Open data is a generator of prosperity and democratization of the society, said the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Macedonia, Charles Edmund Garrett at the launch event of  the the School of Data – Macedonia website. The event took place at the Journalists Club in Skopje on the 4th of June.

Opening data helps support to civil society organizations, journalists and all citizens interested in the use of data. To build a community around the use of data, a “Network of Civil Society Organizations for Open Data” has been created thanks to a collaboration between the Metamorphosis Foundation and Open Knowledge, with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The possibility of civil society to ask for information relevant to public policies and procedures is essential to the rule of democracy,” Garett said.

A two-way street

The British Ambassador emphasized that open data is a “two-way street” – on the one hand governments and institutions increase transparency, and on the other civil society increases their participation in decision making and emphasizes the voices of marginalized groups.

“This project is based on a previous engagement of the UK in this area through the so-called “Open Government Partnership” and I hope that our cooperation will continue and will impact on increasing the government transparency and citizen participation in the review of government activities and the decision making process.

Bardhyl Jashari, the director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, told the audience that access to data is important for both sides, because “it helps citizens to equalize their knowledge with the knowledge that politicians have via the data from state institutions available for them at any given time.”

The event was attended by thirty representatives from civil society organizations, associations, media, and interested individuals. As Donna Djambaski from Metamorphosis Foundation said in an article on the website, interested parties can find courses on basic data knowledge, as well as tools and applications for the use and handling of data.

“If any civil organization needs a certain course / training for a skill, we will find / adapt, or create such a course, and later share it with them,” Djambaski said.

A competition for Macedonian open data projects

Besides the website, a competition to support projects related to open data in Macedonia was announced. The deadline for registration is until June 22, and all civil society organizations can apply with a specific idea for a project linked to open data. After completing the competition four projects will be selected and will receive support from Metamorphosis Foundation to implement them.

More photos from the event are available on this link

The competition to support projects related to open data is available on this link

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Improving data literacy in Macedonia

- May 19, 2015 in Fellowship

Unfortunately, data-literacy among macedonian journalists and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives is at a pretty low level. Journalists and their editors haven’t realised the potential that data journalism has to drive transparency, reveal corruption and hold government officials to account.

Stuck in their day to day activities, most of the macedonian journalists don’t even bother to try and work with data. They are overwhelmed by the scale and “complexity” of spreadsheets, have low level skills and experience with Excel and lack basic mathematical knowledge. This is absolutely not specific to Macedonian journalists, but is a problem nonetheless.


Since Freedom of information in Macedonia is guaranteed by law, the journalists and CSO members have the right for free access to information. Besides, the use of FOI requests by journalists and citizen in general is not that frequent. The ones who tried to send FOI requests to Macedonian institutions usually end up with a refusal or unsatisfactory answers.

Consequently, they have limited opportunities to realise the power that data journalism offers in revealing corruption, proving government misuse and informing the public about it in a extraordinary visual and interactive way. Data visualisations can provide great help in the storytelling process, especially when working on highly complex and time consuming investigative stories.

That’s why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in September 2014 launched the programme on Open Data Civil Society Network in Macedonia, which focuses on the importance of transparency, accountability and open data.

They work with Metamorphosis Foundation, a local CSO tasked with implementing the programme in Macedonia, and collaborate with Open Knowledge from the UK. As part of Open Knowledge’s School of data project, School of Data – Macedonia was established, which now offers trainings, organizes meet-ups and support for everyone who is interested, including journalists, CSO members and citizen in general.

This week we will organise an event to promote our new web site The UK ambassador in Macedonia, Charles Garrett, will be present. In the near future we’re planning to organize a two-day workshop on open data and datavisualisations with members of Macedonian NGOs. We will teach them how to work with data in Excel and how to use basic online tools for interactive datavisualisations including Piktochart,, Datawrapper, Google Fusion tables, Timewrapper, JSTimeline, etc.

Several other workshops are planned throughout the year with journalists and their editors from newsrooms across Macedonia. And we will stay available to offer online support and counseling.

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