The beginning of the “Transparent Man” initiative was marked today with the opening of the interactive exhibition “What the future wants” in “Public Room” in Skopje. The Goethe Institut Skopje in cooperation with the Metamorphosis Foundation implements this initiative, which aims to promote the media and information skills of the younger generation and their environment – parents, teachers, and all other interested people.
The German ambassador to our country, Anke Holstein, opened the event by pointing to some of the risks that both young people and adults face.
“On the web, information spreads just as easily and quickly as the alleged information. Moreover, exo-spaces are quickly seizing their followers. Parallel universes are created. Meanwhile, the extent of the social, political, and cultural impacts of these phenomena determine everyday life of politics and diplomacy as well: the social media battles accompanying Russia’s horrific war in Ukraine are being fought with the same ferocity as real battles. No lie is too infamous not to be used. In the meantime, strategic communication has become an extremely important part of our work,” said the German ambassador.
The ambassador recommended the Macedonian film “Sisterhood” as an outstanding example that vividly illustrates how “young people are especially exposed to the dangers of social media, because on the one hand they spend a lot of time on the Internet, and on the other hand, they still cannot really evaluate and arrange situations.”
At the opening, the Minister of Information Society and Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia, Admirim Aliti, also gave a video address and reiterated the commitment of the competent state institutions to improve the situation in the process of digital transformation through the inclusion of all stakeholders.
The director of the Goethe Institut Skopje, Katrin Oswald-Richter, stated the following:
“We can say without a doubt that media competence means democratic competence, and I think I don’t need to emphasize how important it is for our societies. In addition to the dangers and negative phenomena, the wishes and dreams of the younger generation are of special interest.”
“Because it’s all about the ability to distinguish between news and relevant reality, to gain knowledge about the logic of selection of the media system. One must be able to decipher media forms of representation and know how to use the media to get information. And: it is necessary for all of us to be aware of the existence and functioning of algorithms and information filters as well as the role of social bots and fake news,” said the director of the Goethe Institut Skopje.
The Partnerships and Development Director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, Filip Stojanovski, pointed out that it is “extremely important that young people, from an early age, get involved in the fight for human rights online, which include freedom of expression, cyber-security, and privacy.”
According to him, the experience of the Metamorphosis Foundation showed that a systemic and comprehensive approach is needed by combining fact-checking, promotion of media pluralism, media literacy, and critical opinion as a basis for confronting the current tide of disinformation. In the past, Metamorphosis has cooperated with German organizations for the development of democratic values in the digital sphere, including Tactical Tech, and the cooperation with the Goethe Institut opens new perspectives for involving a wider circle of young people.
The Goethe Institut Skopje developed the exhibition “What the Future Wants” in cooperation with the non-governmental organization Tactical Tech from Berlin, which operates worldwide, together with students from countries in the region, including North Macedonia. The exhibition is part of UNESCO’s Global Media and Information Literacy Week, which is happening for the twelfth time. The central event at the global level this year will be held in Nigeria on the topic: “Nurturing trust: a media and information literacy imperative.”
The exhibition “What the Future Wants” through language and design suitable for young people reflects their reality and motivates young people to interactively address topics such as cyberbullying, ideals of beauty, false information, and online addiction. It is simultaneously held in Athens, Ankara, Belgrade, Istanbul, Izmir, Skopje, Sofia, Thessaloniki, and Tirana.
The event was attended by some of the participants in the creation of the contents of the exhibition during the previous school year such as students in the ninth grade in elementary schools in Prilep and Bitola. They, now high school students, expressed their satisfaction with the result and asked for the widest possible involvement of young people in all processes and decisions related to their lives.
The representatives of the Goethe Institut in Skopje, Falk Schleicher and Gordana Baboska, emphasized that they aim for young people, as well as their parents, to get a clear picture of what is happening on the Internet so that they can face the risks together.
In continuation of the “Transparent Man” intervention, the Goethe Institut together with the Metamorphosis Foundation will hold a series of events and activities: workshops for young people and teaching staff, talks with experts, informative events for parents, anonymous counseling by specialists for youth, competitions and regional meetings for youth.
Another activity of the initiative is the public talks with experts on the topic “Parenting in a digital world – hopes and fears regarding the impact of technology on young people”, which will be held on Saturday, October 29, from 6 pm in the venue “Public Room”. At the same time, a live video broadcast will be shown on the Facebook page of the Goethe Institut Skopje.
Saturday’s public event is primarily intended for parents. It should provide them with different perspectives on the phenomenon of the digital world, to which their children and they themselves are exposed. There is an opportunity for all those interested to ask questions before the event, in order for them to be answered by the experts Radmila Živanovikj – accredited psychologist and psychotherapist, Arben Gudachi – data protection expert and Vladimir Petreski – editor of the fact-checking service Truthmeter, founded by the Metamorphosis Foundation.