Bűvösvölgy (Magic Valley), Hungary’s first Centre for Media Literacy and Education opens

Published: 15 May 2014


On May 15, Monika Karas, President of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority of Hungary (NMHH) and András Doncsev, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Human Resources inaugurated Bűvösvölgy, the first Hungarian Centre for Media Literacy in Budapest.

Students between 9 and 16 years of age can gain first-hand experience and learn new skills that will help them interpret and use the various types of media content available. Bűvösvölgy will give scope for transferring comprehensive knowledge to younger generations on how the media works, so that they can understand not only its benefits but its harmful influences as well.

The Centre for Media Literacy, which is designed to receive several thousand students annually, is a unique initiative for reaching out to children and young students personally outside the virtual world, in modern studios equipped with professional media tools. The Centre was created in response to the media authority taking responsibility for guiding today’s youth in their understanding of the globalised virtual space. Through various sessions that are carefully structured to cover each media genre, instructors will encourage young attendees to use the latest tech tools in a responsible manner, highlighting both the excellent educational potential as well as the unknown risks these tools might imply.

At the inauguration Monika Karas stressed that Bűvösvölgy would give students a 'sendoff' to help them safely navigate the virtual world. ˮThe interactive sessions combine into a mind-shaping programme the aim of which is not to prohibit, but to permit and teach proper useˮ – underlined the head of NMHH who also said that, besides understanding how the media works and content is created, the core function of Bűvösvölgy would be to instill in children a sense of confident doubt and a healthy criticism as a means of self-defence in their media-dominated everyday life. The president took a stance in favour of the ˮThink globally, act locallyˮ principle: As the leader of the Hungarian authority, one has to think global since there are no longer any borders in the virtual space; on the other hand, in taking responsibility for the rising generations the authority is rightfully expected to share its experience in Hungary.

In his speech András Doncsev highlighted: Bűvösvölgy is a lot more than two organisations entering into an agreement. The NMHH brings state-of-the-art tools that will help young people get prepared for the challenges of the virtual world, whereas the Ministry of Human Resources, as its name suggests, provides education and instruction — in particular, the development of digital competences that need to be strengthened so much — and humanity as well. Both are indispensable as the transfer of knowledge  can indeed be substituted by modern technology, but without the heart of teachers and their opinion on good and bad, modern technology will become either our dreadful master or our hated enemy. Teachers will therefore have a decisive, key role to play in this mission.

The professional equipment setup at Bűvösvölgy, which is located in Hűvösvölgy in the Hungarian capital (hence the play on words, Hűvösvölgy meaning 'Chilly Valley') was made possible with contributions from the country’s largest infocommunications and media service providers. Once this exemplary partnership had come to being, the NMHH defined six topics around which the sessions would be built, ranging from newspaper editing and advertising gimmicks to mobile communications. In the press studio students will edit their own magazine and learn what has news value. In the news room they will get acquainted with the green box technique and can look behind the scenes of news presenting and weather forecasting. In the advertising section they will learn how to make an impact through the promotion of the Centre's own brand, the Csoda (Miracle) product family. In the radio section they will have the opportunity to try out a recording room and get a taste of film dubbing. During the internet session, there will be strategy games and quizzes to show how to use the world wide web consciously and safely and how to use smart tools without unmindfully giving out their personal information. Bűvösvölgy will run in test mode until 13 June, and during the summer holidays will host groups of children from children's homes.

The Centre will also offer in-service training opportunities for teachers and is awaiting applications from all over the country. In view of the objectives specified in the National Core Curriculum, the accredited teacher training materials cover the following topics: basics of media interpretation; the culture of the digital society; digital skills, digital security and public confidence; developing conscious media consumption habits; acquisition of the media culture; consumer empowerment; and conscious and responsible civic behaviour.

Partners of Bűvösvölgy in the field of media and infocommunications include MTVA (Media Support and Asset Management Fund), online news portals Index and Origo, Invitel, Microsoft, Nokia, RTL Klub, Telekom, Telenor, TV2, UPC and Vodafone. Among the public and social organisations involved, funds are provided by the Ministry of Human Resources, the Internet Hotline service of NMHH, the Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Centre, the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development, the Watch it wisely (Tévézz okosan!) programme and the Visual World Foundation. The media literacy and education centre of NMHH is waiting for applications from organised groups. For further information please visit www.magicvalley.hu.