Although Croatia has no official media literacy policy or strategy, nor a specialised institutional body, and media literacy is only partly incorporated within school curricula, there is strong informal community dedicated to the subject. As the next important step, what is needed is more systematization and formalization, in order for media literacy to really get the place it deserves in the education system, and also as part of lifelong learning. Research shows that up to now, only 8% of Croatian citizens have had the opportunity to learn how to critically think about media content.
Along with the work of several civil society organisations, the Croatian media regulator – the Agency for Electronic Media together with the UNICEF Office in Croatia is doing important work on promoting media literacy in Croatia. Their partnership began in 2014, and since then, they have conducted research on children’s media habits and on media literacy in Croatia. In 2015, the Agency for Electronic Media started co-financing media literacy projects in Croatia. During the same year, the media campaign “Let’s Choose What We Watch” was conducted, among other things, with the aim of raising awareness as to the importance of media literacy among parents, caregivers and children.
The website medijskapismenost.hr (meaning medialiteracy.hr) was launched in 2016 by the Agency for Electronic Media, UNICEF and other partners, as the first national portal and reference point for media literacy in Croatia. The main goals of the website are raising public awareness about the importance of media literacy, empowering parents and teachers in teaching children and young people how to critically consume and create media content, and encouraging conversations about the media and the safe use of technology. The content of website includes research findings on the impact of media on children and young people, and adults; recommendations for parents; examples of good practice from Croatia and other countries; educational materials for teaching children about various aspects of media literacy; and articles about trends and media literacy policies in Europe. The significance of the website has been recognised by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO), and it was included in its comprehensive report Mapping of Media Literacy Practices and Actions in EU-28, as one of the most important media literacy projects in the European Union, and one of the five most significant ones in Croatia.
Since 2018, the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF have also been organising Media Literacy Days, every year in springtime, in cooperation with numerous partners and under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Education. The objective of the project, which has become the largest media literacy event in Croatia, is to provide opportunities to develop skills and competences in media literacy to as many children and adults as possible. Media Literacy Days consist of three main elements: events (lectures, workshops, debates, screenings, etc.) in kindergartens, schools, Universities, libraries, cinemas, NGOs, etc.; workshops for students in media outlets; and the production and distribution of educational materials. The website medijskapismenost.hr is the main communications channel of Media Literacy Days, where all information related to the project are published, including educational materials (more than 20 handbooks up to now). Most of the materials were developed in cooperation with Croatian experts, but several were translated and adapted from Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and French educational materials.
For 2nd Media Literacy Days, held in 2019, more than 273 events were organised in 90 cities in Croatia, with more than 16,000 participants. In 2020, Media Literacy Days coincided with lockdown in Croatia, so most of the planned activities had to be postponed or held online. Educational materials, including 12 new video lessons made in cooperation with teachers from all over Croatia, were used for media literacy lessons in virtual classrooms.
In response to challenges brought even more to light by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency for Electronic Media and UNICEF have conducted a digital campaign with the aim to raise awareness and empower citizens to think critically, recognize misinformation, and use the Internet safely and responsibly.
Different activities are being planned for the next Media Literacy Days too and the rest of the year 2021, taking into account the need to adapt them to the pandemic circumstances, and the key goal is to encourage cooperation and gathering of stakeholders who can contribute to stronger positioning of media literacy in Croatian society.
Editor’s note: Ana was one of the speakers during our recent Wednesday Webinar on Media Literacy in Croatia, you can find a recording of the whole webinar here.
Editor-in-chief of the website medijskapismenost.hr and coordinator of the Media Literacy Days project in Croatia