Sustaining foreign aid initiatives in the field of media and information literacy within the central asian context

From Firenze University Press Journals: Media Educational

University of Florence
4 min readJul 4, 2024

Azamjon Oltmishevich Dadakhonov, University of Mainz

In an era characterized by the rapid proliferation of information and the ubiquity of media platforms, the importance of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) cannot be overstated. MIL equips individuals with the critical skills necessary to navigate the complex media landscape (Wilson et al., 2011; Andersson, 2021; Potter, 2021), discern credible information from misinformation (Singh & Banga, 2022; Lord & Vogt, 2021), and actively engage in democratic processes (Kahne et al., 2021; Ash-ley et al., 2017). In the context of Central Asia, where media envi-ronments are evolving amidst diverse socio-cultural and political dynamics, the significance of MIL is par-ticularly pronounced by several researchers (Akhmetova et al., 2013a; 2013b; Asanboeva, 2021; Chelysheva, 2019; Isma i lova, 2016).Central Asia, comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, is a region undergoing significant transformations in its media landscape (Freedman & Shafer, 2011; Haerpfer & Kizilo-va,2020; Karabchuk et al., 2023). As governments strive to modernize their media sectors and harness the potential of digital technologies, there is a growing recognition of the need to foster MIL among citizens. International organizations and donor agencies, such as UNESCO, UNISEF, IREX, Internews, DW-Akademie, have been instrumental in supporting MIL projects in the region, aiming to promote media literacy, freedom of expression, and access to information.The topic of media literacy in Central Asian countries has long remained a subject of discussion exclusively in aca-demic circles. Despite regularly held university confer-ences and a solid list of scientific publications, its discus-sion has not come to the fore in socio-political discourse. Trainings and courses on media literacy for residents of remote rural areas, university professors, and teach-ers began to be conducted approximately five to six years ago by non-profit organizations in the civil sector with the financial support of UNESCO, Internews, IREX, the Deutsche Welle Academy, as well as using grant funds allocated by a number of embassies foreign states within the framework of cultural cooperation (Asanbayeva, 2021, p. 21).However, achieving sustainability in international MIL projects in the Central Asian context poses a formi-dable challenge. As Morfaw (2014) aptly noted:Project sustainability is now a common approach related to the management of projects, programs, institutions, organizations, people, and other entities requiring effec-tive and efficient production, marketing, distribution, and the delivery products and services… It is a proven truism that most projects are failing because of the lack of an appropriate sustainability plan. It is therefore very neces-sary for a comprehensive analysis of the social, economic, legal, cultural, educational, and political environments for project implementation (para. 2)Sustainability encompasses not only financial viabil-ity but also the integration of MIL practices into edu-cational systems, media regulations, and community initiatives. It requires a concerted effort from stakeholders across sectors to ensure the enduring impact of MIL interventions. Against this backdrop, this research paper endeav-ours to explore the attempts to achieve sustainability of international MIL projects within the Central Asian context. Drawing upon in-depth interview results, observations of MIL projects, and analysis of guidebooks and research works from Central Asian scholars, the study seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability landscape in the region. By synthesizing insights from diverse sources, the paper aims to identify key challenges, strategies, and best practices for sustaining MIL initiatives in Central Asia.The insights gleaned from this research are expected to contribute to both scholarly discourse, practical poli-cymaking and programming in the field of MIL. As Central Asia navigates the complexities of media develop-ment and information dissemination, fostering a culture of MIL becomes imperative for promoting informed citizenship, safeguarding democratic values, and fostering social cohesion. Through collaborative efforts and innovative approaches, the vision of a sustainable and resilient media ecosystem in Central Asia can be realized.The aim of this research paper is to explore the endeavours to achieve sustainability of international MIL projects within the Central Asian context, draw-ing upon insights from in-depth interviews with media trainers and MIL experts, observations of MIL projects, and analysis of guidebooks and research works from Central Asian scholars.Research questions for this research are as follows:

RQ1. How do MIL trainers and media experts explain the importance of MIL projects in the region?

RQ2.What are the primary challenges faced in achieving sustainability in international MIL projects within the Central Asian context?

RQ3. What strategies have been implemented by MIL trainers in Central Asia to ensure the long-term sustainability of their projects?

RQ4. In what ways do MIL trainers in Central Asia assess the effectiveness of their sustainability efforts and adjust their strategies accordingly?

RQ5. What are the most effective strategies for ensuring the long-term sustainability of foreign aid projects focused on MIL in Central Asian countries?


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