Use Your Mobile Phone – Be Responsible for Sustainable Development

During the workshop "Point of You" young people learned about innovative methods of reporting, using primarily their mobile phones, they gained new skills, and developed critical thinking and empathy.

Jelena Terzic
Spozhmai Aqtash and Djordje Tomovic are filming their first MOJO video using mobile phones.
UNICEF Serbia/2019/Shubuckl

11 April 2019

Belgrade, Serbia, 30 March 2019 - Djordje Tomovic from Pirot, Southern Serbia, is a couple of exams away from a degree in pedagogy. He doesn't want just to teach. He wants to find innovative ways to solve the problem of peer violence and believes that the media can help with that.

That’s why he applied for UNICEF's mobile journalism workshop “Point of YOU”. He claps excitedly, while the young mobile journalist (MOJO), Yusuf Omar, energetically explains how Djordje’s voice can be heard by people on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.  

“I’ve worked as a journalist before, but mobile journalism is something new to me. To be honest, so far, I’ve been using my mobile phone and social media just for fun. I like mobile journalism because it’s available to everyone and looks so easy”, Djordje explains.

While installing the video editing app recommended by the charismatic Yusuf, Djordje explains that he already has an idea about how to use these new skills in his profession:

“I would interview pupils about their views on peer violence. I’ve already carried out research on this topic, so I would record how pupils interpret those results.”

Kristina Mitic from Nis, Southern Serbia, is also interested in education, as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Together, in a group with three other girls, they first drafted the story, then they recorded and edited a video on how school-aged children can use social media for extracurricular activities.

Spozhmai Aqtash, a fifteen-year-old girl from Afghanistan, temporarily accommodated at the Asylum Centre in Krnjaca, wants to report about the right to education of refugee children.

“I have often recorded my surroundings in the refugee camp to have memories, but I have never posted anything. Now I see that I don't need a professional camera and microphone to show the world what I do and what I’m interested in”, says Spozhmai.

With her twenty-three-year-old sister Meena Aqtash, Spozhmai focuses on editing the shocking photos their brother took, on the road from Afghanistan:

“I would look for answers to questions about whether refugee children have access to education, are they just wasting time or using their time in a valuable way, for example, by learning the language and going to school.”

Yusuf convinced her that mobile journalism is a simple way to make visible the issues that are important to her.

“People think they can’t do anything if they don’t have a camera, but that’s wrong. A mobile phone is enough to do something good, change something.”

Biljana Stojkovic, from Subotica, in Northern Serbia, agrees with that. Her camera phone, just like many others’ in the audience, is broadcasting live from the workshop.

As a UNICEF Youth Advocate she has already used social media to talk about topics that matter to her generation. As a mobile journalist, she wants to address mental health issues.

“I would encourage others to share difficult moments with their followers, even though they would risk getting fewer likes that way.”

Yusuf Omar is holding a MOJO workshop for one hundred young people from across Serbia.
UNICEF Serbia/2019/Shubuckl
Yusuf Omar is holding a MOJO workshop for one hundred young people from across Serbia.

The number of followers and reactions on social media are important to young people. Yusuf Omar is aware of that.

Over the past ten years, he has been reporting with his mobile phone from war zones and other places and events that have changed the world. He encourages young people to share stories which are important to them on social media.

“Our generation values real, raw, authentic storytelling. We don't want to be lied to, we don’t want to be manipulated and I'm trying to encourage these students to see their mobile phones as a device to do that, as this incredibly powerful communications tool, which they can use to amplify their stories and the story of the SDGs“, says Yusuf Omar, explaining why it’s so important that UNICEF was able to bring together so many young people who share a passion for bringing the SDGs to light.

Young people will feel the effects of global warming. That’s what 17-year-old Djordje Plavsic from Valjevo, in Western Serbia, and 19-year-old school Aleksandar Nikolic from Belgrade had in mind when thinking about what to report.

 “Our MOJO is plastic. We filmed passers-by throwing plastic cups and how they accumulate in one pile, and then we recorded how this plastic can be used in another way and be good for something,” says Djordje.

“We believe in mobile journalism because it is innovative and encourages the participation of young people”, explains Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Representative in Serbia.

“The goal is for these one hundred young people to contribute to the consultative process for the Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals. More than that, we want to empower them to be agents of change in their communities, to inspire their communities to also take part in this process." 

“The goal is for these one hundred young people to contribute to the consultative process for the Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals. More than that, we want to empower them to be agents of change in their communities, to inspire their communities to also take part in this process. At the same time, through mobile journalism, we want to support the monitoring of the implementation of SDG priorities, see whether the Government takes those issues seriously and what actions it undertakes,” explains Regina De Dominicis and reminds us that people trust people, which is particularly true for young people:

“That’s why communication with young people cannot be carried out only through institutional channels. We need to meet them in their world - the digital world,” she concludes.

Young people are learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and how to report from their communities about the SDGs.
UNICEF Serbia/2019/Shubuckl
Young people are learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and how to report from their communities about the SDGs.

Representatives of the Youth Panels of the Ombudsman and of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality also participated in UNICEF’s workshop “Point of YOU”.

They work to eradicate discrimination in their communities. Brankica Jankovic, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, expects them to use mobile journalism to shed light on problems of the poor and children without parental care.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring together people from different parts of Serbia – from rural areas, some of our remotest villages and from cities. These young people, together with the Youth Panellists who are working to ‘eradicate discrimination’ across Serbia, have come together to learn about how mobile journalism works.”

During the workshop, young people learned about innovative methods of reporting, using primarily their mobile phones, they gained new skills, and developed critical thinking and empathy.

They were empowered to report on how their communities are making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and will share their stories with their peers.

The issues addressed by these one hundred young people, aged 15 to 24, with UNICEF's support, will be included in consultations for the Voluntary National Review (VNR), to be submitted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia in 2019.

Their opinion will be heard at the highest level of the United Nations in New York, as part of the VNR, thanks to coordination from the Office of The Minister Without Portfolio in Charge of Demographics and Population Policy. UNICEF's programme activities that support adolescents and youth are being carried out with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.