Students from Tbilisi, Georgia, talk about issues that matter to them in a weekly radio program organized by WACC partner Helping Hand. Photo: Courtesy of Helping Hand
One hundred students from four public and one private school in Georgia are now providing weekly broadcast and blogs on issues that matter to them, including human rights, gender equality and bullying, thanks to a WACC-supported project.
WACC partner Helping Hand, a women-run civil society organisation based in Tbilisi, began its Youth-School Platform for Citizen Journalism program in January 2019. Each month, it conducted training and workshops on issues around media literacy, bullying, tolerance, gender equality, civic engagement and journalism.
Participants’ weekly broadcast and blogs are published online at www.myvoice.ge and on its Facebook page.
Through this pilot project, Helping Hand aims to “help reduce rates of violence, lack of student engagement, and build civic participation” among young people ages 14-17. It will also provide local teachers, administrators and policymakers have also been invited to participate in knowledge-sharing opportunities.
“This project responds to the fact that in Georgia, several issues undermine the realization and implementation of social, economic and cultural rights,” particularly among vulnerable groups in society such as women, youth and minorities, said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC program manager for Communication for Social Change. “Factors such as sexism, high rates of violence, violation of freedom of religion, and misinformation hinder the ability of a fruitful society for all.”
A project participant told Helping Hand that the project provided “a great opportunity to learn more about online radio specifics,” and to talk about challenges faced by young people, including bullying. “I invited experts at my radio talk show and provided tips for my classmates,” said the participant.
Another participant said the experience helped address stereotypes like “girls can’t do montage,” adding, “I do my own and it’s a great feeling to share with others what my peers are thinking on bullying, tolerance, and human rights.”
Within the project, Helping Hand also conducted a baseline survey among participants, which found “strong support for human rights issues, but little knowledge or experience on how to address social changes,” said a preliminary report submitted by Helping Hand. Nearly half of respondents were unsure of how those social change issues impacted or affected their communities or Georgian society at large.”
The survey results also showed that most were unfamiliar with most media technologies and media literacy concepts, the report added. “These survey results suggest that our target population stands to gain substantive knowledge and experience through the Youth-School Platform for Citizen Journalism project.”
The survey also showed that most of the participants believe that Facebook, television and other social media platforms such as Instagram, were the “most effective to share information about social changes in their community.”
Asked to identify challenges by their community, the respondents ranked agriculture, sports and recreation, corruption, gender equality, and public transportation as the top five “most pressing issues.”
Helping Hand plans to present the works of participants and results of the survey to Georgia’s Ministry of education, NGO representatives and schools in December.