In Central Asia, Addressing “Fake News” and Propaganda through Media Literacy

In Central Asia, as in other parts of the world, “fake news” and propaganda are becoming more prevalent and citizens are starting to understand that they need to take measures to combat the onslaught.

To help promote media literacy, digital literacy and critical thinking among university and high school students, and local communities, Internews hosted a three-day Eduthon in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in July for educators and media literacy specialists. Thirty-three people from five Central Asian countries attended, representing professors, deans and senior lecturers of journalism departments, high school teachers, and editors and correspondents of media outlets.

Noting that the global news and information environment has changed dramatically in recent years, Daniel Bruce, Internews’ CEO for Europe, opened the event saying, “If earlier it was only about delivering information to the so-called information ‘deserts’, now most citizens are already advanced users of a variety of news delivery mechanisms.”  

“That’s why we need urgent global attention to the issue of media literacy more than we ever have before.”

The goal of the workshop was to share knowledge and experiences to collaboratively develop educational projects promoting media literacy in local languages for use in schools and universities.

Two posters show drawings and hand lettering
Professional scribers summarized takeaways from each session. Scribing was very well received by the participants because it visualizes the main points noted by the speakers and makes it easier to memorize them.

During Eduthon, participants learned about existing media literacy initiatives in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, and Ukraine, online and offline teaching methods, critical thinking, user self-regulation on the Internet and digital security.

“The format of Eduthon is new for me and immediately aroused my interest. I liked the interactive methods applied – working in groups, in teams, discussions. It also helps to share experiences and best practices,” said Saltanat Kazhimuratova, a school teacher from Almaty, Kazakhstan. “I’m interested very much in the school newsletter in Lithuania. I am already thinking about how to apply this in the framework of my Media and Society course.”

Three women look through a cardboard frame made to look like a Facebook post
Social media photo frames with the Eduthon hashtag were used as an educational device. There were also text boxes with famous people’s expressions related to media literacy.

“Eduthon was very useful for us because we work in technical education – in college, and in principle we know what media literacy is, but we do not know how to work with it properly,” said Damilya Shayakhmetova, the Head of the Pedagogical Department of the College of the Eurasian Humanitarian Institute in Astana. “The most important thing is that we found here new partners from higher education institutions and we agreed to jointly implement a project aimed at our colleagues from colleges in order to increase their media literacy.”

At the end of the three-day Eduthon, the participants developed project concepts on media literacy, digital literacy or critical thinking. An independent jury selected the five most viable projects, which will receive small grants from Internews for further implementation:

  • “Media Eduthon: generation Z15-19” – developed by a team of college and university representatives form Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan, this project proposes hosting a Eduthon for college teachers to increase their media literacy level. In the long term, the team plans to introduce an elective on media literacy in the College of the Eurasian Humanitarian Institute of Astana and host the Eduthon in the Kazakh language for Kazakh speaking teachers.
  • “Kyska-nuska” (briefly and clearly) – developed by the director of the public fund “Bizdin Muras” (our legacy) from Kyrgyzstan, this project proposes production of content on media literacy in the Kyrgyz language for the audience of, a popular online portal among Kyrgyz speaking youth with 3000-7000 visitors per day.
  • “Media club 1+1” (1+1 is a Russian interpretation of the title of a popular movie, The Intouchables) – developed by an associate professor of the Journalism Department at Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Kyrgyzstan. Through production of mobile content and participation in special events, this project proposes to increase the self-esteem and media literacy of 8-11 year-old children who have siblings with disabilities and live in vulnerable families.
  • “Myth busters” – developed by the Senior Correspondent of the Information Agency «Asia-Plus», Tajikistan, this project proposes development and deployment of a “Myth busters” section on a popular online portal Asia Plus (the website has approximately 100,000 views per day and 40,000 followers on Facebook). Visitors will increase their media literacy through a fact-checking game and participation in a Myth Busters contest.
  • “Media literacy +” – developed by a Senior Lecturer and Lecturer of the Journalism Faculty at Mirzo Ulugbek National University of Uzbekistan, this project proposes media literacy development among the users of the online portal though thematic content in Russian and Uzbek (online survey, fact-checking stories, video and animated stories, and multimedia stories). has approximately 8,000 – 10,000 visitors per day.  

Internews will host the second Eduthon in 2019 and support five more media literacy projects for students, youth, women and citizens of Central Asia with the goal of contributing to peace and stability in the region.

Eduthon was implemented by the Internews project “Contributing to stability and peace in Central Asia,” which is funded by the European Union through its Instrument contributing to Peace and Stability (IcSP).

For more information, join Media Literacy for Everyone and “Eduthon” on Facebook.