"Truth Matters": Media Education Weeks begin in the Czech schools
On Monday, 22 May, an educational action by the People in Need - One World in the Schools organization (Člověk v tísni – Jeden svět na školách) called "Media Education Weeks 2017" is beginning with the motto "Truth Matters". The weeks will last until 30 June and are focused on Czech elementary and secondary schools.
The program features debates with journalists and media experts as well as film screenings and seminars. The project partners include several independent editorial boards of media outlets such as the news server Aktuálně.cz, public broadcaster Czech Television, wire service the Czech News Agency, news server Hlídací pes ("Watchdog"), the daily Hospodářské noviny, Radio Free Europe, the magazines Reportér and Respekt, and the Seznam Zprávy news server.
As many as 40 journalists have promised to participate and travel the country discussing current events with the pupils and students of primary and secondary schools, including acclaimed editors and journalists such as Sabina Slonková, Jindřich Šídlo and Erik Tabery. A total of 11 collaborating organizations long involved in civil society development or media outreach will offer their own experts to participate in the discussions and seminars.
Those organizations include the Association for International Affairs (Asociace pro mezinárodní otázky), Demagog.cz, EDUin, European Values (Evropské hodnoty z. s.), HOAX.cz, Manipulátoři.cz, Open Society Fund Prague, the Prague Security Studies Institute, the Center of Media Education at the Theology Department of South Bohemian University in České Budějovice, the Jan Ámos Komenský College and the College of Media Journalism (Vyšší odborná škola publicistiky). "We are offering schools many study materials including the documentary film 'Nothing But Lies' (Nic než lži) and the opportunity to invite journalists to visit. For example, we have a publication called Analysis of Media Messaging, the special edition of the RESPEKT weekly called Disinformation, many articles on media subjects and posters describing the methodology of media education according to our methodological concept of the five crucial questions to ask when consuming media. All of this is available to the schools free of charge. All you have to do is apply using our online form at www.jsns.cz," said the director of the One World in the Schools program of People in Need, Karel Strachota.
The schools, however, do not just have to choose from the above-mentioned institutions and names. "We are offering the schools a list of journalists and media experts who have confirmed that they want to be involved in our activities. However, it's up to them whether to take advantage of this or not. They can invite, for example, journalists from their own town as well. They can also choose to screen a different film from one of 23 audiovisual lesssons available," Strachota clarified.
Recent research undertaken by People in Need in collaboration with the Median agency confirms that media education receives minimal attention at most schools in the Czech Republic, despite the fact that such education develops what is a crucial literacy skill today. "In a situation where the traditional mass media are losing their authority, hundreds of thousands of fake news items and hoaxes are making the rounds of the Internet, and when there is a daily battle between lies and truth, it is actually difficult to distinguish between disinformation and facts. Despite this, we must not resign ourselves to the situation - we must seek the truth, because it matters," Strachota said.
All secondary schools may join the program, which is also appropriate for upper elementary school students (elementary school in the Czech Republic runs through 9th grade). All of the information and the online application is available on the website of One World in the Schools (Jeden svět na školách).
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