Turkmenistan is turning to its journalists in an attempt to popularize the uptake of science among its youthful population. This was the context of a UNESCO workshop held from 17 to 18 September in the country’s capital, Ashgabat.
Facilitated by the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), at the invitation of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the workshop was attended by over 85 journalism students and professors. They came from the faculty of journalism of the Institute of International Relations, the Turkmen State University and the Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences.
In his introductory lecture as facilitator of the workshop, Fackson Banda, a programme specialist in the IPDC, outlined the educational, democratic and developmental functions of science journalism.
He explained: “Science journalism, while contributing towards the overall educational wellbeing of the population, builds a bridge between scientists and citizens, thereby democratizing the practice of science. More importantly, it helps us to understand the fundamental contributions that scientific research and development make to economic growth and overall human development.”
Speaking earlier, Ms Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, drew the attention of the participants to the role of journalists in educating the general public on such topics as climate change, biodiversity, desertification, water scarcity, among others. She emphasized the need for journalism to take on health issues as well, including diseases, maternal and child health, along with many other subjects related to sustainable development.
The workshop builds on a similar one successfully conducted by Banda in Tehran in 2014, at the invitation of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO.
Speaking on behalf of the Turkmenistan National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kuvandyk Poladov hailed the success of the workshop and called for the translation into Turkmen of some of the UNESCO publications used for the training.
As part of the closing ceremony, Banda availed hard copies of the latest UNESCO publication titled Teaching Journalism for Sustainable Development: New Syllabi for use in the libraries of the three higher education institutions that took part in the workshop.
The workshop is one of several activities being implemented as part of the IPDC’s Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education.