“How can Conflict-Sensitive Journalism (CSJ) change the media field?” It is the first discussion topic on Monday afternoon, at the start of the second and final training week for eleven communication teachers from all over Mindanao. The question sparks immediate energy, ideas, and dilemmas. For the teachers the change will start in the classroom, by introducing their students to CSJ and guiding them to use the CSJ tools to develop their media output, now as students, and later as media practitioners. The second training week focuses on exactly that: teaching strategies to use in the classroom to convey the rich material of CSJ. On Friday afternoon, we see the teachers with big smiles on their faces: the world is 11 certified CSJ teachers richer.
It was last December that most of the teachers embarked on their journey to become a CSJ certified teacher. After an application process, all of them were selected to start the CSJ Certification Program for Teachers, organized by forumZFD, PECOJON – The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network the Philippines, and Media Educators of Mindanao (MEM). Some described the first training week as ‘very technical’. The theory and practice of CSJ was the main focus of the training, combined with expanded theory on peace, conflict and violence.
It was not only the mind that had to be engaged. Topics such as the importance of role-modeling in peace education initiated self-reflection on how they, as media educators, have a dual role to play – that of a media specialist and that of an educator.
Equipped with the engaging workshops conducted by Mr. Ed Karlon Rama, CSJ Trainer of PECOJON, as well as with the CSJ teaching guide, the teachers set on the task to develop their own CSJ output after the first training week. The CSJ output, consisting of a writing plan and the actual article/documentary/radio broadcast, was a required element for the certification. The practical experience obtained by making their own media output will strengthen their ability to eventually mentor their students in the practical application of CSJ and its tools.
The teachers were excited, but also slightly anxious, at arrival at the second training week of the certification program, held this July 1-5, 2019. Coming from Cotabato, General Santos, Mati, Davao City, and Cagayan de Oro, it was encouraging for the teachers to see familiar faces again since they first gathered six months ago and learned together. The friendships and camaraderie were immediately picked up from where they were left off last December. The bits of anxiety they now felt originated from the realization that this week, they would not only have to present their CSJ exercise, but also give a teaching demonstration of a CSJ topic for their peers. They all passed these tasks with flying colors and on Friday had the certification in their hands.
Though the second training held this week marked the completion of their certification program, it is an important stepping stone in their journey towards becoming active practitioners and advocates of CSJ in the region. You will hear more from these new CSJ advocates in the future.