For the Palestinian members of Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth), the month of November started with a training workshop on Media and Information Literacy (MIL). The workshop, which was held on November 2-4, 2015 in Ramallah, gathered 10 young Palestinian journalists and activists and was organized by the UNESCO Office in Ramallah within the framework of the NET-MED Youth project.
“This training tackles new and unique topics, particularly in terms of media work in the Gaza Strip,” says Noor Swirki, young member of the NET-MED Youth media Working Group and journalist at Community Media Center in Gaza. With excitement in her voice, she continues, “The concepts of media education, technology and information have never been tackled before, and I am particularly interested in the topic of verification of information.”
For Noor and the rest of the participants, the opportunity to participate in such a training was quite exceptional.
“Information is generally available and accessible but the methodology to dig for it was never part of my strategy as a journalist and a media employee,” says Noor.
The training, which gathered for the first time young journalists and social media activists from Gaza and West Bank organizations working on youth and media, focused on methods to locate, evaluate and effectively use information to ensure professional development and to make informed decisions as users and producer of information and media content. Throughout the different workshops, light was shed on the essential role that information and media play in our everyday lives and on how these lie at the core of freedom of expression and information.
“Media education starts with the right to access, evaluate and understand information; then spreading and producing it,” says Mohammad Abualrob, Trainer and Assistant Professor of Online Media at Birzeit University in Ramallah. “The importance of digital and media education lies in orienting youth on the role of media and its influence on the public. The drive for media education is the ongoing role of bloggers, social media activists, and others who can affect public opinion.”
One of the key objectives of the NET-MED Youth project is to foster media information literacy, awareness of freedom of expression, and media production skills among young women and men. Through a series of workshops and activities, the projects works on building capacities of youth so they can critically and effectively engage with media and information providers, and they can strengthen their advocacy and monitoring efforts regarding national youth strategies and policies.
“Most of the young users and producers of electronic media tools are also the creators of media content. These youth are also consumers of digital media information,” says Reema Salem, NET-MED Youth Coordinator in Gaza. “Promoting media and information education is for us crucial because youth learn how to find and identify necessary information, where and how to obtain it, how to evaluate it critically and constructively, how to organize it, and how to use it in an ethical way.”
Through this workshop, like through others organized by NET-MED Youth, the value goes beyond training the initial number of participants. Each trainee becomes a strong link in a chain and takes upon themselves the role of imparting their acquired skills and knowledge to other youth members of their organizations.
“The most beautiful thing about this is that all my friends in Gaza are waiting for my return so I can hold a gathering session where I will convey to them what I have learnt in this training,” says Noor.
The Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) project is implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union. It aims at mainstreaming youth issues and priorities across national decision-making and policy implementation in eastern and western Mediterranean countries by building the capacities of youth and youth organizations and promoting their active engagement in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies on youth, ensuring that youth issues are adequately covered by national and regional media and by identifying workable models for improving youth access to employment and youth inclusion in different sectors.
Learn more about UNESCO’s work on Media and Information Literacy, and the Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy!