Practice what you preach: Professors as a role model in media literacy

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Author: Elma Tahmaz 

The formal education system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, like unfortunately many other areas, needs improvement. It certainly needs improvement in many aspects, but who has the courage to open this topic and actively work on it? During the South and East Europe Regional Conference (SEE Regional Conference) Media and Information Literacy for the public good, the minister of education in Canton Sarajevo, Ms. Naida Hota Muminović shared some daring thoughts and creative ideas. Could she be “The One”?

The minister mentioned one very important goal of the education system: to “produce” students who will have a developed sense of responsibility. This statement itself is basically no revolution in thoughts. The part that was refreshing to hear, is her admitting that we first need to provide students with competent and responsible professors. Namely, only professors with the needed set of skills can teach new generations on how to be a critical thinker who will become a responsible and active citizen able to distinguish fake from real news. 

Only if professors are media and information literate, we can expect students to follow their lead and start acting responsible in reading, writing, and sharing news. Critical thinking needs to be systematically taught and encouraged in schools, rather than relying on the personalities of individual professors and how they choose to incorporate this skill in their daily work. All in all, it seems the education system finally tries to find root causes of the problem in order to effectively work on solving it.

Prof. Dr. Emir Vajzović, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo, added his thought that it is necessary to equip young people with the skill to lead a constructive conversation, so they could be able to exchange thoughts amongst themselves in a civilized way, learning what their rights are so they could actively protect them. This is the only way young people can challenge political structures and make them start changes in their society.

It is certainly a long and thorny way to achieve a balance in creating a modern, comprehensive, and useful curriculum for young people which will among other things enable them to think critically and detect fake news. But the fact that we have a minister believing “Individuals should be able to achieve their maximum and we should be the ones creating circumstances for them to achieve that goal” is very encouraging. It will certainly be interesting to follow up the activities of the Ministry of Education in the Canton of Sarajevo which is currently in the middle the education reform.