Czech teachers can combat Russian propaganda with new lesson plans

Czech elementary and secondary schools can use new education materials on the Russian propaganda and media manipulations.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 13.04.2022 11:58:00 (updated on 13.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

While young people have access to more news streams than ever, the importance of media literacy in the context of information wars has become exceedingly prominent. 

The One World in Schools (JSNS) program run by the People in Need humanitarian organization urges teachers to use their materials to talk to students about the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the impact on the lives of ordinary people, refugees, and media manipulation and propaganda.

The JSNS program's media coordinator Abrhamova said the materials are available for downloading on JSNS.cz.

The program director Karel Strachota said that the hybrid character of the war in Ukraine has shown the need to transform and emphasize the importance of media education in the Czech Republic.

The two audiovisual lessons are headlined 2022: Russian Information War and Damn Job. They are designated for secondary school students and higher grades of elementary school. The lessons offer examples of the Russian approach to the interpretation of events and highlight the aims of Russian media statements.

The first lesson focuses on the propaganda aimed inside Russia, the other deals with information as spread by Russians abroad, mainly to Czechia.

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The materials include informative texts as well as a registry of guidelines and examples for activities in school lessons. They also contain a new documentary film about one of Russia's last independent news broadcasters, the Dozhd television, which terminated its broadcasts in early March, shortly after the start of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.

The new materials are a follow-up to Current Russian Propaganda, the JSNS program issued in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2015.

Abrhamova said schools' interest in the materials intensified after Russia attacked Ukraine in late February. The number of users watching or downloading the videos has risen seven times, compared with last year. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, people have watched over 3,000 videos and downloaded over 4,500 materials for school lessons, Abrhamova said.

Strachota said the conflict in Ukraine confirms the need for a fundamental change in the approach to media education in Czechia.

The tasks for schools' media lessons are still unclear and teachers are often not adequately prepared for them. The state has been failing for a long time in this respect, Strachota said.

The boosting of media literacy and the ability to distinguish between facts and lies is an effective defense against information war, he said.

Meanwhile in Russia, Moscow’s war against neighboring Ukraine is increasingly finding its way into Russian schools, as schoolchildren and preschoolers have been recruited to publicly demonstrate support for the invasion.

Even Russian pre-schools are being forced to run lessons teaching toddlers to support the Russian war in Ukraine, with teachers fearing they'll be fired or have their salaries cut if they don't comply with the propaganda campaign. 

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