Building an effective civic society in the Rhodope mountain & reducing the civic disengagement, cultural marginalization & the spread of populism & antidemocratic propaganda here through trainings on media literacy and active citizenship for 150 selected local 10-11 graders, who will then put their knowledge into practice, spreading it among more than 3000 of their peers, co-creating & leading civic initiatives & being trainees, improving the work & the civic control of local institutions.
Smolyan, Rhodope mountains, South Bulgaria (the region with the most conservative society).
Most of the people from our community are very conservative and close-minded. They have different religious & cultural background from the majority in our country & don't participate in the public life & the decision-making process regarding their present & future. For example less then 20 persons attended the last public report of the Major & the last public discussion. Even the term "Media literacy" is totally unknown for more than 80% of the high school students. That makes our local community very prone to fake news, manipulations & populism, our civic society noneffective, leaves the local institutions without civic control & lets extremistic, undemocratic & populistic propaganda spreading without obstacles.
Building specific hard skills on media literacy in our youth will let them be an effective part of the decision making process in our society. This will increase the civic control of the work of the institutions, it will strengthen our democracy & make our community less prone to fake news & populism. The internships of young people in different local institutions & their recommendations for improving the working process there will make those youngsters more engaged in the modernizing & optimization of the local administration & will make those institutions more open to the point of view of the youth. Leading co-created & inspired from them local civic initiatives will show the youngsters how they can make a positive change.
Our target group are high school students, because they are more prone to learn, more into the modern media & the new ways of transmitting information and they don't carry the heavy burden of being raised in totalitarism. Learning how to build a literate civic position, & how to present it within our community, will let them be the spine of the civic society in our region and country. Most of the youngsters in our isolated region have a religious & cultural background, different from the majority in our country. They often feel excluded & aren't very interested in the civic life. The traditional tolerance here, is now threatened by the populism & xenophobia related to it. Increasing media literacy will affect the whole community & will help people be more open-minded & tolerant.
1.3stage selection of 150 participants for the the Training Courses.
2.Conducting TCs with media literacy & presentation skills AM & work in teams for identifying local problems & co-creation of ways for solving them PM
3.Conducting the civic initiatives for solving the problems
4.Internships in local institutions for the best TC participants
5.Assessing feedback from each participant about the work of the institution & giving advises based on it to the Mayor & the regional governor
6.Conducting the dissemination seminars by each participant in their school, assessing them & choosing the best ones
7.Seminars in all the high schools in the Rhodope mountain
8.Analyzing the results & disposing them to the Educational ministry for planning the next stage
150 local youngsters will acquire the specific hard skills, necessary for building a literate civic position & for presenting & supporting it and the presentation skills for sharing the knowledge with their peers and relatives. They will become a peculiar immune system for our society, protecting it from hate speech & antidemocratic propaganda & spreading the European values among it. All the students from the high schools in our mountain will acquire basic media literacy making our civil society stronger, more tolerant, open minded & pluralistic. The civic control over the local institutions will be increased, they will be more open for the youth & have a better dialogue with them incl. inter-generational. Youngsters will gain a first-hand experience running their own civic initiatives.
Building a sustainable civic society in each European country which has problems with the democracy will strengthen the overall democracy in Europe because a chain is as strong as its weakest unit. "Arming" 150 local youngsters with the skills making them an immune system against hate-speech & anti-democratic propaganda of our society & ambassadors of European values will straighten our civil society, making it more tolerant, democratic & pluralistic. Giving them a chance to work on their own civic initiatives will let them gain practical experience & show them how they can make a change. Reaching most of the 17-20 y.o. youngsters in our mountain will make them more engaged in the civic life preventing their social exclusion. The civic control & transparency of local institutions will grow
The media literacy & the promotion of European values in our retrograde and close-minded society is a cause we work on for years. Right after the pilot campaign, we started planing the regional & national stage of the project, because we were inspired from the results and & the demand from the comprised youth. Smolyan municipality strongly supports the educational center we plan & we need only the help of our educational ministry. The vice minister Sacheva advised us to prove our idea on practice first & to analyse the results. So the TCs will be a trial of the work of the future center and the campaign in the neighboring districts will be a trial of the one in South central region. We will share the results with the minister & if he is impressed from them he will support us.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
A week long training courses for 150 participants (accommodation, food, trainers, co-trainers, administrators) - 14 000 EUR
Dissemination seminars in 75 schools for more that 3000 10-12 grade students (lecturers, co-lecturers, administrators, logistic) - 12 000 EUR
Administration costs and technical support for the hole project - 6 500 EUR
Scholarships - 1 000 EUR
Technical materials - 3 000 EUR
Courses in humanitarian school "Ivan Vazov" - 1 000 EUR (funded from the school budget)
Do they think that this initiative is relevant to their local community too and would they like to be our partners in future projects for expanding the idea and mutual know-how sharing?