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More than 30 young people from 15 local communities in BiH will be able to make well-informed decisions in the local elections thanks to a training course on critical thinking and analysis of political messages. Young people took notice of the substantial amount of negative rhetoric in political speech and the effect that information phrased that way has on youth and other BiH citizens.

Between December 1, 2019 and January 15, 2020 the Institute researched negative speech and divisive rhetoric of politicians in the media, and the results showed that the selected politicians gave more than 600 statements in 45 days in the most popular print and online media outlets. In those statements, young people were mentioned only 11 times, exclusively in contexts regarding emigration, and 30% of the statements are generally negative in tone. Based on this research and the Institute’s previous experience, a short training was designed to teach young people how to think critically about politicians’ public statements, and to understand the impact of negative rhetoric on peacebuilding in BiH. The trainings were held in Mostar and Banja Luka for over 30 participants.  

“The training “REad and REthink” is the first training on media literacy and critical thinking I’ve ever taken part in, and I think it’s very useful because it gave me a chance to learn new things improve on my skills, and learn to think more broadly about these topics. The organization, team and trainers were excellent and I personally liked the entire concept and flow of the training because we managed to work as a team, while at the same time improving our personal skills. This entire training was an extraordinary experience that had a positive impact on me, and I hope that I’ll have an opportunity to take part in similar trainings”, said Armina Herić from Bugojno, one of the participants of the Mostar training. 

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During the training, young people recorded short video clips telling politicians what their priorities should be and what they should focus on in the pre-election period. After the training, young people with the best ideas will be given mentorship and financial support so they can implement activities in their communities promoting critical thinking and awareness of the impact of negative rhetoric on the lives of people in local communities.  

“The training managed to reach all the goals it set in the beginning. Gathering a large group young people from different areas and local communities and completely capturing their attention is a major success for the trainers, who are, first and foremost, extraordinary individuals and experts. The topics of the workshops, presentations and exercises were impressive in quality, and youth from different parts of BiH showed that this country can rely on them to build a better future. The training gave me knowledge, experience and information, and I’m particularly proud to say that we will break just one rule from the workshop - these new friendships and relationships won’t stay confined to this room, and neither will our future cooperation, both professional and, more importantly, personal”, said Marko Marjanović from Istočno Sarajevo, a participant of the Banja Luka training.

The training was organized within the project “Providing support to youth in local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina” implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the financial support of the Government of the United Kingdom.

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