DW Akademie is doing pioneering work to bring media skills to schools and indigenous communities in Central America.
A mobile radio studio on a Guatemalan schoolyard. Radio Sónica, one of DW Akademie's partners in Guatemala, offers disadvantaged young people the opportunity to express themselves.
Guatemala is a country in that young people make up almost half of the population. However, many grow up in dangerous environments where poverty, malnutrition and violence are widespread. With armed gangs ruling the streets, there is little room for the dreams and concerns of young people. Traditional media outlets largely ignore young people's reality so that the youth are mainly exposed to a mix of misinformation, prejudice and racism in social networks. As a result, young people have great difficulties in finding the information they need to shape their lives in a positive way. The consequences can be dramatic. For example, Guatemala has one of the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies worldwide: young people often lack guidance on contraception and family planning. And while Guatemala is home to more than 20 indigenous languages, most media provide information only in Spanish. Those who speak a different language are thus not only excluded from information but from public life as well. This is where DW Akademie comes in.
In Guatemala, we work with Asociación de Servicios Educativos y Culturales (ASEC), a local partner, to develop programs that are unique in Central America. School students acquire media skills through entertaining and engaging lessons, and this way learn how to find reliable information online and avoid dangers present in social networks. To do this, ASEC trains volunteer teachers and includes key elements of media and information literacy (MIL) in its textbooks. This benefits thousands of students throughout the country who completete their education through the Guatemalan Institute for Radio Education (IGER). DW Akademie and its partners draw on the extensive experience of Sónica, a radio station and digital platform that has pioneered MIL since 2017 and visits schools in problem districts with its "mobile studio".
Another local partner, Comunicares, works with indigenous communities and develops MIL programs for young people, and taking into account and respecting their local culture and language. In cooperation with Radio Sayaxché, Comunicares is developing programs, games and digital formats that promote media skills and encourage young people to become actively involved in civil society. With its experience, Comunicares is a pioneer in Latin America and shows how MIL approaches can work in various cultural contexts.
The projects in Guatemala are a regional component of DW Akademie's country program in Mexico. Guatemala's experience with MIL also serves partners in Honduras and El Salvador, where selective activities are also held.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Program Director: Patricia Noboa Armendáriz
Locations: Guatemala City, Sayaxché
Focus: Media and information literacy (MIL), participation of disadvantaged groups, civic participation, participatory media formats