Living in an era where clear and simple facts have turned into “endangered species”, kids and adolescents face the big challenge of separating truth from fake information, honest communication, and deliberate manipulation.

From fragmentation of traditional news sources to the rise of social media, equipping people, especially those of young ages, with the ability to safely navigate the murky waters of media represents not only a guarantee but also a necessity.

UNICEF in collaboration with ICTSlab started in Albania on November 2020 an informal education program to help young people, aged 15-21 years old from high schools of Albania, improve their critical thinking towards information of any kind.

This program is organized in the framework of “Qëndro Project” with the financing of Italian Government and partnership of Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of State for Youth and Children, Ministry of Finances and Economy, National Agency for Employment and Skills and Italian Embassy in Albania.

It is a youth social program for adolescent and young people passionate about literature, writing, written and visual media and social media to help them differentiate misinformation during casual consumption of internet and social media on the web, playing, exchanging information, or socializing on different platforms.

On November 3-4-5 Ponder instilled a great curiosity and interest among young people of the city of Elbasan gathered more than 100 applications with 57 of them selected to be part of a 3-day workshop.

Supported by 9 mentos from media and publishing sector in Albania: Flogert Muça, Fation Binjaku, Xheni Hatillari, Manjola Hasa, Esmeralda Shala, Merita Hoxha, Krisi Kallapi, Anisa Bahiti and Gentian Guni, the first day of Ponder began with games and interactive exercises.

After attending the training of the first two modules focused on “Critical Media Writing and Reading” and “Types of Media”, young people ended the first day with the “Beyond the Lines” movie putting a strong emphasis on bullying in schools and high schools. This sparked lot of discussions about this phenomenon with each of the participating young people sharing their view about the positive impact they can bring in the society regarding this troubling issue for young people in Albania.

The second day of Ponder focused on the third and fourth module of “Photography Reading” and “Empowering through Critical Media Literacy.” The groups created different stories based on some given images, took photos of them, and pitched their view.

An interactive discussion with mentors, participants and staff members followed by submission of essays closed the second day.

Ponder program rewards the best works with six paid internships. On the third day, based on the quality of the works, Ponder jury announced 8 winners: Klevi HykaRubin VrapiEliana MedaKamelisa SelamiSara HasaIsli KafexhiuSelma Muzhaqi and Kledi Mita.

All participants, mentors and volunteers were rewarded with certicates during the winner’s announcement ceremony with the participation of co-founder of ICTSlab and ICTSmedia, Mr. Kushtrim Shala. He emphasized the importance of this experience for young people.

A global village, connected in digital way facing the blistering spread of misinformation and fake news, Ponder program highlights the importance of young people being able to differentiate the truth from manipulation.

Ponder empowers adolescents to critically approach information, to examine and find biases, to promote values and to be able to judge the truth and the sources of information they face.

The Winners

  • 30 years with/out democracy – Klevi Hyka
  • Hamlet yesterday, today, and tomorrow – Rubin Vrapi
  • Albanian Youth: proactivity for the future – Sara Hasa
  • Derivatives of youth activism – Kamelisa Selami
  • Argumentative Essay: A philosopher once said: “Your character is something you choose to create.” Do we build character qualities ourselves or is it formed by influences that we cannot control? What do you think? – Kledi Mita.
  • Nazi crimes towards Albanians – Eliana Meda
  • Is man free in the desert? – Selma Muzhaqi
  • Writers’ relationship with politics – Isli Kafexhiu