The School of Peacemaking and Media Technology is a not-for-profit media development and communications organisation in Kyrgyzstan. It focuses on peace research, advocacy, and training on media issues.
The activities of the School promote free and fair journalism in crisis and conflict areas, aiming to promote stability and democratic development in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. It was established in June 2010 after ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, to support mediation and peacemaking training, media-monitoring and capacity building of the local community in the post-conflict period. The School was registered as a Network of Social Mediators Public Foundation.
Media training for journalists
The school’s basic curriculum is multi-level training and workshops for reporters and civil activists, encouraging diversity, peace and conflict resolution. This aims to address a lack media funding and independence, including professional skills and ethics. The primary mission of the School is therefore to help professionalise the media community, working to international standards, promoting peace journalism, providing training, and conducting advocacy against discrimination of ethnic minorities.
Its team of experts and trainers consists of experienced international and local media professionals and peacebuilders, who have worked in conflict zones for a long time. Together, they are developing the concept of post-conflict peace journalism in Kyrgyzstan.
Based on this concept, the school has now spent almost five years conducting training for local reporters on how to overcome stereotypes, to construct an open dialogue between different ethnic communities, and to work on post-conflict rehabilitation of society through the media.
School trainers have successfully introduced new media tools for peace journalists, including the production of team reports. These techniques were successfully implemented in the post-conflict period in Macedonia, the Balkans, and in 2012 during the Winter School. They have been implemented into the School's curriculum by Eran Fraenkel, the course author.
The School's Media Monitoring Group is involved in content analysis of Kyrgyz- , Uzbek- and Russian-language media, mainly in southern regions. This group aims to determined and document if hate speech exists in the media.
On the basis of a specific methodology, experts also examine the state of ethnic media, analyse media coverage of peace factors and their impact on the internal politics of the countries of Central Asia, and conduct surveys of consumers of information in the border areas and in the Fergana valley conflict area.
These studies provide the basis for the development of training materials, as well as making recommendations to the government, NGOs and the media community.
The School has so far trained around 200 media workers in Kyrgyzstan, several activist groups, human rights defenders and crisis reporters in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They have gained experience in mediation techniques as well as an understanding of conflict negotiations, and the role of biased perceptions of conflict in crisis situations. This has helped to develop and inform their work to build a peaceful Kyrgyzstan.
The School has also implemented other projects, such as a programme to to reduce the potential for ethnic conflict, funded by NED, and work to encourage diversity through the media and education, funded by the Soros Foundation. More than 700 people benefited from this work.