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International community gives a strong push to media and information literacy

Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021 was in many ways historic. The Week was commemorated from 24 to 31 October 2021 under the theme “Media and Information Literacy for the Public Good.”


Global MIL Week 2021 was co-organized by South Africa and UNESCO, with the support of the European Commission. Stakeholders around the world gathered virtually on this significant occasion and organized over 600 local events to celebrate the Week. It was the first time that Global Media and Information Literacy Week was hosted by an African country and celebrated at the United Nations level, after being proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 March this year.


Over the course of the week, close to 150 speakers underlined the pivotal role of media and information literacy for the public good in 25 thematic sessions of the Feature Conference and Youth Agenda Forum. Their profiles ranged from policymakers, experts, practitioners, to representatives from international organizations, media, NGOs and the private sector. More than 600 online and offline local events and activities related to media and information literacy were organized around the globe to commemorate the Week.


In this deluge of information, we need more reference points and more rational thinking. That is why media and information literacy is a such a key skill for the education of the 21st century citizens.

-- Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO


This global threat of misinformation is more pronounced today as the world battles the anti-vax lobby in the face of the devastation occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic… We must consider new media and information literacy programmes to help people understand the consequences of creating and sharing false and misleading content. To achieve and sustain the goal of media and information literacy for all, international cooperation is most urgent.

-- Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa


Enhancing cooperation among stakeholders to sustain media and information literacy development


Also, for the first time, regional intergovernmental organizations including the African Union, Arab League, Asian Cooperation Dialogue, and European Commission, expressed their commitment to fostering media and information literacy at the regional level and to enhancing global cooperation among stakeholders.


State actors from France, Kenya, Morocco, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, and South Africa, presented media and information literacy policies and strategies and related good practices in their countries, setting examples for other states.


Several United Nations Agencies, Funds, and Programmes discussed ways to strengthen cooperation around media and information literacy within the United Nations system during the second United Nations Roundtable on Media and Information Literacy.


Positioning media and information literacy on the international development agenda in the post-pandemic world


The urgent necessity to forge partnerships and mobilize adequate resources for media and information literacy was reiterated by major donors and government representatives during the Feature Conference. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, ICESCO, Arab League, and Google called on other stakeholders to join as contributors and partners so that resources are secured to support media and information literacy programmes.


Lars Amréus, Chairperson of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency encouraged “other donors as well as partners from the private sector to recognize the importance of media and information literacy as building block in this work,” and highlighted that “the drive for democracy aims to initiate renewed and revitalized effort to support and strengthen democracy worldwide online and offline.”


The need for an International Media and Information Literacy Fund was also underlined and embraced.


As a pioneering move, the Feature Conference initiated a dialogue on formulating an international multi-stakeholder framework for private/digital platforms to integrate media and information literacy in their policies and operations. Organizations such as OECD, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Commonwealth of Learning embraced the idea of this multi-stakeholder framework and offered recommendations on what it should entail.


Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, OECD Deputy Secretary-General emphasized, “the cross-boundary nature of misinformation and disinformation also means that only collective actions will deliver the change we want to see. Only a comprehensive, multi-dimensional approach will help curb this threat.” The dialogue is to be continued on 9 December 2021 with other stakeholders at the Internet Governance Forum 2021.


Youth hacking media and information literacy for better futures


The role of youth in promoting media and information literacy and building better future was brought to the fore during the Week. “Youth is a priority group for UNESCO, not only as beneficiaries, but more importantly as drivers for change. Throughout our action in media and information literacy, we strive to ensure inclusion of youth as co-creators, co-leaders, and experts in media and information literacy development,” stated Mr Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, during the presentation of the Global Media and Information Literacy Youth Hackathon winners and outcomes.


The Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021 Youth Agenda Forum was held in the form of four dedicated sessions during the Feature Conference with an aim to mainstreaming youth. 85 teams composed of young people and youth organizations from 45 countries engaged in the creation of innovative solutions to a series of challenges using media and information literacy, in the “Hack Media and Information Literacy for Better Futures” youth hackathon. The creative ideas of the six winning teams received recognition from the 25 jury members.


The baton of Global Media and Information Literacy Week was passed from South Africa to Nigeria, the host country of the 2022 edition.


Preparations have commenced... Nigeria successfully hosted in 2013 the Global Forum for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy in Abuja... We hope to make the 2022 (edition) more colourful and impactful, especially for the continent of Africa.

-- Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria


Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021 was celebrated from 24 to 31 October. Its Feature Conference was held between 25 and 29 October 2021, while local events took place around the world to commemorate the Week, thanks to the involvement of the Member States, members of the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Alliance and the Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue University Network, among other partners.


The second edition of the UNESCO Model Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Educators and Learners was published recently. In a connected initiative, UNESCO and the Republic of Serbia, in cooperation with the European Commission will jointly launch the Global Standards for Media and Information Literacy Curricula Development Guidelines, on 11 November 2021. Learn more about the launch event here.


These Standards are intended to guide policymakers, media and information literacy practitioners, and other stakeholders in general about how to design, formulate, implement and monitor a media and information literacy curriculum inside and outside school settings. These and other related resources are being adapted into an online multimedia collaborative platform to be launched in early 2022.