The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) and ten other education and media non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have established a coalition to promote media literacy among children in Bulgaria.
In addition to AEJ-Bulgaria, the coalition includes the Red House Center for Culture and Debate, the Institute for Progressive Education, the Center for Inclusive Education, the Together in Class Association, the National Network for Children, the National Center for Safe Internet represented by the Foundation for Applied Research and Communications and the Parents Association, Education Bulgaria 2030, and the Voice of Children Foundation.
Although the ability to find, evaluate, and use information significantly affects one’s opportunities for personal and professional growth, many people continue to lack the skills to make the best use of the information they have access to. This unenviable situation has resulted from a combination of factors but the absence of discussions on the topic at home and the deficiencies of the Bulgarian education system seem to stand out.
“Today children go to the Internet before they start going to school,” the coalition partners wrote in a statement sent to the media. “Some parents consider themselves insufficiently prepared to guide [their children] in the huge and chaotic information environment and do not participate in the creation of positive and safe models for using information in the digital era. This gives schools a very important role, yet the development of media and digital-media literacy among children is not prioritized when it comes to curricula, [programme] content, and teaching methods.
In the past, literacy entailed a set of skills for reading, writing, and doing simple mathematical operations. Today, by contrast, the term also includes the ability to use information effectively and safely, especially online.
Along with promoting public debate on the topic, the new coalition will collect good practices by schools and other educational institutions, teachers, organizations, and media which aim to equip primary school students with basic skills to use information appropriately.
The existing data indicates that the coalition has a lot of work ahead. According to a 2016 national representative survey by the National Center for Safe Internet and MarketLinks, just over half of Bulgarian children aged 9 to 17 feel confident in their ability to verify the truthfulness of a piece of information, and slightly over 26% think they don’t have such ability.
The coalition was officially presented to the public on 11 September 2017 in Sofia. Any individual or organization sharing the co-founders’ values and concerns is welcome to join the coalition and contribute to its cause with ideas, advice, and contacts.