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On 8 November 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Mass Media Policy Guidelines of Latvia 2016-2020 and their implementation plan developed by the Ministry of Culture. These are the first mass media policy planning documents in Latvia.
Mass media policy guidelines include five action lines for strengthening of the Latvian mass media environment. One of those is devoted to the promotion of media literacy.
- Diversity of the media environment;
- Media quality and responsibility;
- Education of professionals of the media sector;
- Media literacy;
- Securitability of the media environment.
The Ministry of Culture implements measures for the development of media literacy in cooperation with other institutions, non-governmental organisations and representatives of the sector. However, it should also be noted that the inclusion of the matter of critical thinking and media literacy in the content of formal education is within the competence of the Ministry of Education and Science and the National Centre for Education.
Young people and children are the focus for several activities of action line 4 of the guide implementation plan.
Measure 4.1.1 envisages to conduct a media literacy research in the society, including among young people from the age of 15. The research was implemented in 2017. Research results show that media literacy should be especially strenghthened for youngsters in age group 15-24. Critical thinking should be developed towards evaluating media content. 1/5 part of all respondents has admitted that they share posts in social media without fact-checking, while 40% in age goup 15-24 pointed out that they do so. 54% of youngsters believe that the information published in social media is trustful. In October 2018, State Chancellery in cooperation with Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Interior launched a communication campaign “Media are not comedia” against dissemination of fake news, addressing mainly youngsters and seniors which accordingly to the research results are less critical towards information published in media, including social media.
In the end of 2017 Ministry of Culture carried out research focusing on media literacy of children and adolescents (9-16 years old). Results show the high usage of the Internet – it is used for no less than 3 hours per day by 57 % of the surveyed: a third (34 %) of the children aged 9-12 and more than two thirds (76 %) of the adolescents aged 13-16.
However, the majority of the activities done on the internet are for entertainment purposes or purposeless. Only a few read books on the internet or look for information for school or hobbies. 40 % of the respondents have indicated that they surf the internet and spend time online aimlessly every day, 32 % play different games on the internet and only 23 % look for information that is necessary for school.
The most popular internet platform of those that are used daily is YouTube: almost all of the respondents tend to use it and 78 % of them do it every day. The next most popular internet platform is E-klase, 69 % of the respondents use it every day. These platforms are followed by Google and WhatsApp that are used by 63 % of the respondents daily.
A lot of time is spent on YouTube. Almost a fifth (19 %) of the surveyed respondents have stated that they use YouTube for more than 5 hours per day. Moreover, another 38 % have indicated that they use YouTube for more than 3 hours per day.
Measure 4.2.3 envisages to organise media literacy trainings for local government specialists, and measure 4.2.4 plans to inform young people working in the field on media literacy. The information to specials of youth affairs in local governments has been given in the presentations of Ministry of Culture representatives during seminars organized by Ministry of Education and Science.
Measure 4.4.1 envisages to develope media literacy of pre-school age children and pupils of first forms, creating an audiovisual training tool to provide children of pre-school age and pupils of forms 1 to 2 or the elementary school with basic media literacy knowledge in the way appropriate for their age. In September 2017, the social campaign for media literacy and digital safety “Superheroes in internet!” was launched, which was organized by Ministry of Culture, State Police, Net-Safe Latvia, companies “Rimi”, “Balta” and “Deepwhite”. In accordance to order of Ministry of Culture, the methodological recommendations for pre-school and elementary school was elaborated to help teachers in practical usage of animated short films and other campaign materials in learning process. Information about the campaign, methodological recommendations and invitation to use them was sent by e-mail to ~1450 pre-schools and schools with elementary school programmes in Latvia, as well to 110 Latvian diaspora weekend schools abroad. The campaign had a wide publicity in media, and 4 regional seminars for teachers will take place till the end of 2018.
Measure 4.4.2 plans to organise activities popularising and educating about media literacy for pupils and young people, using the method of debates. Until now, two national debate tournaments (competitions) were organized. Pupils were preparing and debating on the issues whether information available in social media raises knowledge about political processes, and whether inhabitants of Latvia demand high-quality media content. Pupils from 20 schools from Latvia will meet on November 2018, when the regional national rounds of the tournament will take place this year.
In the end of 2017, Ministry of Culture created posters (A1 format) for media literacy development. 1800 copies of poster were disseminated to libraries, youth centres, schools, institutions of local governments.
The implementation plan of media policy guidelines also envisages several measures focusing on education of information mediators (mentors) – media literacy training for teachers and librarians. According to survey results, librarians are one of those mentors, who provide children and young people with information on the internet and media. In cooperation with National Library of Latvia and UNESCO Chair of Media and information literacy in University of Latvia, 274 librarians and 191 teachers were educated in media literacy issues during year 2017. Training course is being continued in 2018.
In an intermediate way, youngsters are addressed by teaching tools and methodological materials elaborated for teachers. Ministry of Culture in 2017 has supported creation of 3 teaching materials which are available online for everyone who is interested in self-development in media literacy field, for parents and teachers. In 2018, representatives of Ministry of Culture have given lectures on media literacy issues for Officers of Youth affairs in State Police (introducing with research results and risks revealed in youngsters’ answers on research questions about their experience and practice in digital environment), as well for students of various universities.
In cooperation with NGO “Latvian Debate Association” (Quo tu domā?) Ministry of Culture organized 3 public debates on media literacy issues (for example, whether media shoud be financially punished for disseminating fake news; whether anonymous commentaries in the internet should be allowed; whether restrictions on use of smart phones in teenagers’ audience should be made). At least 2 participats of debates under 30 years was a necessary condition of the event. Usually youngsters were represented by debaters under age of 25 years.
Summing up, Ministry of Culture works on media literacy development in 5 action lines: 1) research and analysis; 2) training and ensuring methodological materials for media literacy mentors – teachers, librarians, specialists of youth affairs in local governments etc. 3) addressing school pupils (and even pre-school children) and youngsters; 4) raising awareness in wider society; 5) coordinating and building capacity of media literacy stakeholders in Latvia.
For more information on media policy Latvia, see here.
The objective of the project Online4EDU is to support teachers in applying more digital media in everyday school life. Online collaboration tools can thereby enrich teaching and learning in all school subjects, and help teachers to find, create and organize new and up-to-date learning materials. The project Online4EDU therefore create a blended learning concept that facilitates online collaboration tools for school teachers of primary, lower and upper secondary and vocational schools. The blended learning concept will also prepare teachers for the ECDL Online Collaboration certification test.
This curriculum provides concepts and skills with regard to online collaboration tools such as storage, productivity applications, calendars, online learning platforms, web meetings and social media. Who is addressed? The curriculum addresses especially teachers from all schools forms (primary, secondary, vocational) and focuses on providing skills regarding the use of online collaboration tools in school practice. Course in Online4EDU project The project provides a blended learning course which is organised in three units (Unit 1: technical aspects, Unit 2: methodological aspects, Unit 3: practice) that are each based on different methodological concepts according to the content that is facilitated. The overall structure of the units is similar in order to provide participants with a consistent learning experience.
The Ministry of Culture is cooperating with the Agency for International Programs for Youth of the Ministry of Education and Science. As envisaged by measure 4.4.3 of the Implementation Plan of Mass Media Policy Guidelines of Latvia 2016-2020 information of media literacy, its meaning is provided as a part of an informative seminar on an annual basis and it is proposed to use the opportunities offered by Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme in the development of international non-formal education projects focusing on media literacy.
The National Library of Latvia trains users, including children and young people, in search and evaluation of information. It also develops and organizes the professional development training for the librarians of public and school libraries of Latvia who directly work with young library users.
Also non-governmental organisations get involved in the promotion of media literacy of children and young people in the field of non-formal education within the framework of different projects, for example, NGO “Avantis”. Young people develop their debating skills (including on media literacy matters) within the framework of the Quo tu domā? association. Support to different media literacy strengthening activities was also provided by international partners, for example, the British Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the German Embassy in Latvia, etc. For example, with support of the British Council public mass media are implementing the project “Full thought” (Pilna doma), the purpose of which is to develop critical thinking of Latvian teachers and pupils and to promote their media literacy. Moreover, Latvian Radio with support of the British Council is implementing the project “Clean facts” (Tīri fakti), one of target audiences of which are young people.
The main objective of the Latvian media policy is the creation of a strong, diverse, professional, transparent, sustainable and stable media environment in which nationally, regionally and locally the top quality, content relevant to the Latvian public interest and common good contributes to the reflection of the basic values fixed in the Constitution and its introduction in the national media space, the priorities of the Latvian language are balanced interests of the industry, the audience has access to independent and reliable information and knowledge to use it.
The aim of the media policy guidelines is to create conditions conducive to media activity, ensuring and developing media diversity, improving the education of professionals in the media sector, raising the quality and accountability of the media environment, promoting media literacy and promoting a media and media environment for the individual and society.
- The diversity of the media environment.
- The quality and accountability of the media environment.
- Media education professionals.
- Media Exercise.
- Reliability of the media environment.
 Summary of results in English is available here:https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/mediju_politika/petijumi/eng/Main%20conclusions_research_Media%20Literacy%20of%20the%20Inhabitants%20of%20Latvia_2017_ENG.pdf
 Summary of results in English is available here: https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/mediju_politika/petijumi/eng/Summary_Research%20on%20the%20Media%20Literacy%20of%20Children%20and%20Adolescents%20Aged%209-16%20in%20Latvia_ENG.pdf