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Media Literacy Conference: Education is Key

Media education at the center of the AUP-organized 6th International Scientific and Methodological Conference

The Academy of Ukrainian Press (the ‘AUP’), in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and with the support of Deutsche Welle Academie and USAID-funded U-Media Proejct, implemented by Internews, has organized the National Talk: Raising the Level of Media Literacy in Ukraine, as part of the 6th International Scientific and Methodological Conference on April 20th and 21st in Kyiv.

Rise of fake news gives new urgency to media literacy education in Ukraine’s schools. With the support of Internews and other international organizations, the AUP has carried out eleven Summer & Winter Schools for Media Studies and dozens of other educational activities for eight years of implementation of media literacy projects in Ukraine. There have been implemented media literacy education in 500 schools, drawn up seven educational programmes, and prepared eight textbooks. About 90 thousand Ukrainian teachers and 15 thousand media activists gained basic knowledge on media literacy through various forms of learning.

The conference was opened by its dignitaries, namely, Marie Yovanovitch, USA’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Ukraine, Marjorie Rouse, Senior Vice President for Programs at Internews, Pavlo Khobzey, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, and Kyrylo Savin, Program Manager of Deutsche Welle Academie in Ukraine. The event attracted over 150 educators, media literacy activists, representatives of international organizations, and public officials from across Ukraine.

Speaking during the opening of the conference, Ambassador Yovanovitch said Ukrainians needed to “filter fake news and be able to critically assess the information they receive”.

“People, especially our youth, often consume information from various media channels without filtering it, but they need to be able to identify whether there is an agenda behind a story and to think about the goals of the media outlet that produced the story,” she said.

“We need to know how to protect ourselves, that’s why media literacy is a skill that saves. Knowing how to check facts, how to discern and analyze alternatives sources – these are fundamentals that you, as educators, teach your schoolchildren. You develop the new generation. And I am sure that having better critical thinking skills will help stronger personalities, stronger communities and stronger Ukraine,” the Ambassador added.

Internews’ Marjorie Rouse, noted: “Ukrainians want – and need — accurate news to make informed decisions. Over the past eight years, incredible work has been done by the AUP and our partners to find innovative ways forward including ways to blend media literacy with civics, history and other subjects. We have achieved many effective results in educating media literate educators and students during this time. We believe that together we will continue to actively work for solutions that put truth, citizen voice and trust back into public discourse.” 

AUP’s President Valeriy Ivanov also spoke of the importance of media literacy and emphasized the importance of spotting fakes during a plenary session. “Media literacy is vital for a modern person. We are to give the population data validation tools. Everyone has the right to acquire knowledge and skills for recognizing fakes. Owning true information on what is happening in a country and in the world allows a person to make adequate conclusions and steps,” he argued.

Fortunately, Ukrainians are improving in their ability to spot paid media content (known as jeansa), according to the 2017 Media Consumption Survey, a USAID-Internews poll. The poll revealed that out of the 55% of people who know jeansa exists, 63% say they know how to spot a “paid news” report, an increase of 16% from the previous year.

Another poll, conducted by Detector Media, an Internews’ core partner, revealed 61% of Ukrainians believe that media literacy matters to all and needs to be improved. But, at the same time, only 22% of respondents say they are ready to learn how to be media literate.

Keynote speaker Yevhen Holovakha, deputy director of the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, said that the process of raising Ukrainians’ media literacy through the education system will need to continue for decades.  Andriy Kulikov, founder of Hromadske Radio, was the second keynote speaker. He detailed the challenges in sorting fake from real news – even for experienced journalists like himself.

After opening remarks and the keynote speeches, three panel discussions were held, composed of the U-Media project’s senior local implementing agencies, such as Detector Media, the Institute for Mass Information, and Internews Ukraine. They addressed the following issues:

– State priorities for the development of media literacy in Ukraine – where are we now?

– Key Media Actors: how the most popular media seek to influence public opinion and what can be done about it

– Disinformation: what can civil society, media and schools do to help?

Participants also discussed ways how to effectively promote critical thinking among the citizens, who the key actors in the Ukrainian media are and how they influence the citizens, and the distinction between protecting information space and censorship. Also, the panel discussion moderators have not left behind the controversial issues of misinformation, fighting the information war, and the role of education and schools in this regard.

On April 21, AUP provided a full day of professional development seminars for 130 teachers from around the country who are introducing media literacy components into their courses for secondary school students.