Media literacy is gradually gaining ground in Kyrgyzstan. It is included in 25 schools in the country as a pilot project. The program is implemented by Kyrgyzstan’s Media Support Center, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Science, and Academy of Education.
The Center has several successful projects in the area of media literacy, for which it received a 2017 Global Media and Information Literacy Award presented by GAPMIL.
“Within the scope of the project, a teaching plan has been developed for teachers — with media and information literacy classes. Thirty teachers were trained. The class will be in Russian and Kyrgyz. Currently, the educational material is getting ready to be published,” says head of the Center’s media literacy program Aychurek Usabayeva.
The Development of Media and Information Literacy in the Public Education System of the Kyrgyz Republic program aims to develop among young people skills in online security, critical thinking, interpretation of media content, and resisting media manipulations.
Usabayeva remarks that students’ and teachers’ suggestions were taken into account during project development discussions. “Working with teachers, students, and schoolchildren, the people at the Center know that media literacy is very topical nowadays. All parties are interested in the course; moreover, the parents are asking to make the course permanent,” adds the Center’s representative.
According to Usabayeva, teachers are asking for more and more training sessions and materials on media literacy, while parents are interested in the classes, providing positive feedback about them. The children create different media projects and join the ranks of citizen journalists.
The organization today tries to withstand challenges, so the program succeeds and becomes completely adopted in schools across the country.
“First, the biggest problem is the bad technological equipment in the region’s schools; on the other hand, we often encounter many teachers’ conservative views on media products. This hones the difference between the level of knowledge between students and teachers,” Usabayeva confesses frankly.
According to her, the process will slow down slightly also because of the country’s complex educational system.
Besides media literacy, the Media Support Center also has programs in the country in the areas of ensuring freedom of speech, and media outlets’ professional and financial sustainability.
This non-profit, non-governmental organization ensures its independence with commercial print services. The foundation has its own printing house, where more than 32.3 million issues of newspapers were printed last year (Super-Info, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and so on).
Thanks to innovations and a strong team, the foundation is the leader in Kyrgyzstan’s media industry. The 14-year-old foundation creates platforms for capacity-building and experience-sharing of young professionals in the media sector.
Another project of the Media Support Center’s, Media Literacy Course, twice a year provides information on the media and the journalism profession to youth.
“The course began in 2012, in which 200 students and senior high school students participate every year. It helps students in the higher grades in the matter of choosing. profession; they do practical exercises, understand the nuances of the media sector,” says Usabayeva.
Also one of the successful programs is well-known writer Diana Svetlichnaya’s course How to Write to be Read, which is designed for students interested in journalism and those aspiring to develop their creative skills. The issue is teaching the youth, so that they write creatively, compose their thoughts accessibly, and be competent in the written word.