UNESCO gave boost to media and information literacy in Arab States

UNESCO organized the Regional Forum on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in Arab States in Cairo, Egypt, from 22 to 23 April 2015, in collaboration with the League of Arab States, the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA), Al Ahram Canadian University, and the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO.

About 140 participants from 14 countries of Arab region (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, UAE) and seven MIL experts from outside the Arab region (Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain) participated in this Regional Forum. Participants included policy makers, curriculum experts, educators, and media and information experts.

The Forum focused on several key issues, including: articulating concrete partnerships to drive media and information literacy (MIL) development and impact in the Arab States, enabling the MIL community in the region to speak as one voice on certain critical matters, particularly as it relates to policies; and further deepening the strategy for MIL by providing a common platform for MIL related networks and associations in the Arab States.

The Forum called for increased awareness on MIL, exchange of experiences and possible integration of MIL in educational curricula in the Arab countries.

The Arab Chapter of Global Alliance on Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy was launched at the Forum. A detailed action plan for the Arab States GAPMIL Chapter was finalized along with committee members from 14 countries.

Ms Zainab Wakeel, Assistant Secretary-General representing Prof. El Sayed Abdel-Khalek, Minister of Higher Education of Egypt, Dr Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, the Assistant Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Dr Farouk Ismail, President of Ahram Canadian University, underlined the importance of media and information literacy in the Arab States in the present social and political context. They also stressed the need for introducing literacies at an early stage of the students life in schools and other places.  

In December 2014, UNESCO’s Cairo Office produced a media and information literacy (MIL) kit to be used as part of the curriculum materials in the education system at schools and universities of the Arab countries. The kit includes learning materials/objects in terms of both text and videos. Well known experts from Egypt (Cairo University) and Spain (Autonomous University of Barcelona) produced this kit.

A two-day workshop was organized in Cairo on 2 and 3 December 2014 to introduce the kit to all concerned stakeholders and to raise awareness about it. Twenty-five participants from Egypt and other Arab countries were invited to attend this workshop and actively participated in the proceedings.

The Forum was a follow-up activity to the December workshop and part of an overall strategy to stimulate MIL awareness and take-up in the region. To enhance access to media and information literacy among youth in the Arab States, UNESCO will launch a Massively Open Online Course in Media and Information Literacy in Arabic (MIL MOOC).