In the years 2014-2017, Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan will continue to fund projects that support the media and introduce new information technologies for development under the joint program Freedom of Information.

The program works in six areas:

1. Facilitating the transition to digital broadcasting

2. Support diversity in the media, as well as initiatives on improving access to minority language content

3. Support reform of Public Television of the KyrgyzRepublic (final phase 2014-2015)

4. Promotion of Open Educational Resources

5. Development and implementation of electronic textbooks

6. Protecting freedom of speech and the Internet

 

Kyrgyzstan has international obligations to disable the analogue signal in June 2015 and to launch digital broadcasting. To date, the transition to digital broadcasting is difficult due to legislative weaknesses, weak technical and vocational training of local broadcasters, limited funding from the state budget and lag from similar processes in comparison with neighboring countries. The program aims to help ensure that citizens have access to quality local, audiovisual products. This will be achieved through the establishment of transparent regulatory mechanisms and a phased transition in ensuring equitable access of current broadcasters to the spectrum as well as respect for rights of the viewer.

Another important aspect of the program is the work on improving access to minority language information, especially in the southern region of the country, where, after the tragic events of June 2010, media in languages ​​of minority ethnic communities has disappeared almost completely. Projects on developing content on cultural and ethnic diversity within Kyrgyzstan are aimed at enhancing tolerance, multilingualism and civic identity.

Access to knowledge is one of the fundamental principles of any open society. New technologies bring new opportunities for the creation and dissemination of knowledge: digital textbooks, research and legal information. One of the directions of this initiative is the movement “Open Educational Resources”, which provides free use or processing of educational content developed by government or donor funds. Introduction of the OER policy will facilitate the digitizing process of general knowledge books and textbooks, creation of electronic textbooks and development of school and university multimedia materials freely available through new information technologies.

One of the main objectives of the OER initiatives is the ubiquity of electronic textbooks in all possible ways, including via the Internet. Teachers and students will be able to choose between traditional paper educational literature and a digital copy. Distinctive features of electronic textbooks will be interactive with multimedia components, which broaden the mind and simplify the learning process with innovative solutions.

Description of program objectives

The Freedom of Information Program assists in the promotion and protection of access to information, access to knowledge and freedom of expression in the KyrgyzRepublic.

The Freedom of Information Program aims to improve the situation of access to information in three relevant and problematic key areas such as digital broadcasting, access to open educational resources and access to information in minority languages. Work results in this area will have a lasting impact on the development of the media and the Internet environment in the KyrgyzRepublic and the Central Asian region as a whole.

How we work

The program has been working on the above areas using grant and operational mechanisms. All decisions on the allocation of funding are taken by the Expert Commission of the program and the Supervisory Board of Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan.

What ideas do we support?

1) Promote a smooth transition to digital broadcasting

2) Improving access to information about the country’s cultural diversity and access to information in minority languages

3) Establishing the Public Television of the KyrgyzRepublic as a true public broadcaster

4) Promote the development and implementation of OER policy in universities and research institutions in the country

5) Carrying out activities to promote and improve the knowledge of the general public about the opportunities and benefits of OER

6) Introducing advanced methodology for the use of electronic textbooks in the educational process

Partners

• PF “Civil Initiative on Internet Policy”

• PF “Institute for Media Policy”

• PF “Network of social mediators”

• “Digital Kyrgyzstan” Alliance

• IPF “Roza Otunbaeva Initiative”

• PF “CD Attractor”

• PF “Center of social integration”

• Ministry of Education of the KyrgyzRepublic

• National Library

• Universities of Kyrgyzstan

• KyrgyzAcademy of Education

Contacts:

Program Manager Elina Karakulova (Media- component) ekarakulova@soros.kg

Program Coordinator Almira Dooronbekova (Media- component) almira@soros.kg

Program Manager Samykbaeva Lira (IT component) lira@soros.kg

Program Coordinator Meerim Tokocheva (IT component) mtokocheva@soros.kg