Open menu Close menu

SICA Success Stories

USAID Promotes Media Literacy Skills Among Youth in Uzbekistan

The dissemination of false information and the proliferation of online fraud pose significant issues for internet security worldwide. Uzbekistan is no exception, as over 35 percent of respondents surveyed by the grassroots research institute "Public Opinion" struggled to distinguish between objective and subjective information, critically evaluate information, or verify the validity of information presented to them. Zilola Jamolova, a teacher at the Academic Lyceum of Jizzakh State Pedagogical University, found this problem especially alarming after witnessing several of her students fall victim to blackmail, deception, and online fraud.

"As a teacher, I spend a lot of time in classrooms, and once in a while I hear stories from students about cases of online fraud, stalking or fake news that they or their relatives have fallen victims to," Zilola says. "I can’t forget the harrowing case where a 26-year-old man from Andijan impersonated a schoolgirl to coerce a 10-year-old girl into sending him intimate photographs and videos. In that particular case, the man was sentenced for a coercion attempt. Tragically, though, there are many cases where online fraud or the dissemination of false information result in suicide, loss of savings, or even human trafficking."

For Zilola, classroom discussions and personal stories shared by students highlighted an important issue faced by millions of internet users worldwide: importance of critical and online media literacy skills. "This seemed like a ‘social abscess’ that had to be tended to," Zilola notes.

To address this issue, Zilola applied for USAID-funded Social Innovation in Central Asia's (SICA) Central Asia Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA), which helps forward-thinking youth across the region enhance their leadership skills and pursue civically and socially important projects. As part of the program, Zilola took courses on creative and critical thinking, effective communication, public speaking, and project design. It was while studying at CAYLA that she decided to harness her experiences to develop a project idea on media awareness. "I wanted to prompt my students to be vigilant of misinformation and fraud, and media literacy workshops appeared to be the most effective means to achieve this."

After completing the program, Zilola applied for and received a CAYLA alumni-exclusive $1500 grant to launch "Critical Lens," a media literacy training project dedicated to strengthening critical thinking skills among high school students. The training sessions, delivered to 24 participants, featured expert-led discussions on combating fake news, developing digital research skills, learning the foundations of cybersecurity, and fact-checking. Fellow CAYLA participants Munisa Rayimova and Javokhir Ne'matov provided technical expertise and guidance on the project curriculum, significantly enhanced participant engagement and contributing to the project’s success.

"The project on media literacy was great," says Nigina Suvankulova, a project participant. "I learned to analyze content's sources, do fact-checking, be aware of cybersecurity threats, and much more." Inspired by the knowledge she gained from “Critical Lens” workshops, Nigina decided to launch her own social media blog aimed at battling media illiteracy among fellow teens. Currently, Nigina is working on a content plan for her blog.

Looking ahead, Zilola plans to pursue a master’s program in education and innovation and keep on working with teens on media literacy. "Teenagers are often puzzled by the many distractions that the media and social networks bombard them with and I want them to feel grounded and confident in the choices they make," she explains. "It is the teenagers, after all, who are going to be the primary force driving change in the future and I want to play my part in ensuring they do it well."

Other SICA Success Stories

USAID Supports Launch of Civic Education Program for Youth in Rural Kazakhstan
Learn more Learn more
Improving Access to MRIs in Northern Kazakhstan
Learn more Learn more

Contact Us


Almaty, Kazakhstan
609 Seifullin St
"Forum" Business Center

error icon

Enter your name

error icon

Enter a valid email

error icon

Enter your message

Thank you!