EU, UNESCO, JMI commence Broadcasting Media and Information Literacy Training
The “Youth Empowerment” project works to advance Media Information Literacy (MIL) as a holistic response to foster safe and ethical use, consumption and production of media and internet among youth in Jordan. Implemented by the UNESCO Amman office, with strong collaboration and generous funding from the European Union (EU), the project is being carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of State for Media Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the media community and civil society in Jordan.
This week, in partnership with Jordan Media Institute (JMI), UNESCO is offering a three-day training focused on MIL broadcasting. Nine participants from Yarmouk FM (Irbid) and Sawt Al Janoub (Ma’an) were invited to Amman with the goal of strengthening their MIL skills and working towards becoming mentors to students and volunteers at their respective radio stations.
Dr. Basim Tweissi, Dean of Jordan Media Institute, delivered opening remarks, thanking the European Union and UNESCO for their ongoing support and efforts focused on the promotion of freedom of expression. “MIL skills are more important now than ever, especially amidst the conflict we face in the Arab region”. Dr. Tweissi emphasized the strategic value of MIL, highlighting it as a priority of the current government and encouraging schools and universities to integrate MIL education and courses into their curriculum.
Ms. Cedric Neri, UNESCO associate project officer, welcomed participants, delivering a presentation summarizing the role of MIL freedom of expression and access to information and explaining why advancing MIL skills in Jordan remains a critical task. “Today, the sheer abundance of media content provides us with increased opportunities to find information but we are confronted as well by misinformation or disinformation. MIL empowers citizens to understand the functions of media, critically evaluate content and make informed decisions as users and producers of information and media content”. Mr. Neri commended participants for their strong interest in promoting MIL.
Throughout 2019, the “Youth Empowerment” project will be implemented across Irbid, Zarqa, Ma’an and Mafraq. The trainees at this week’s “MIL broadcasting” ranged from professors to staff members at two community radio stations, Yarmouk FM and Sawt al Janoub.
Ms. Nihad Jariri, JMI project officer, hopes that the training will work towards spreading MIL awareness through everyday radio work. Trainees will come together to form an editorial board and will return to their respective radio stations and pass on their MIL knowledge to 25 students and volunteers at each of the two affiliated universities. From this group of 50, ten will be selected, and the editorial board will supervise the work of these students, providing mentorship and support, and ensuring that they are producing high quality radio content aligned with the tenets of MIL.
“Through the MIL pilot that took place under the now-complete ‘Support to Media in Jordan’ project, JMI has been working with the EU and UNESCO on capacity building and media information literacy. One major outcome has been setting up Jordan’s first local radio association”, Ms. Jariri shared. “With the ‘Youth Empowerment’ project, we are taking another step towards institutionalizing MIL at a higher level and ensuring it becomes an everyday practice”.
Mr. Anas Alomari, Programs Manager at Yarmouk FM, trains about 80 student volunteers each term at the radio station. During this week’s training he hopes to gain a wider understanding of MIL. “When I get back to Yarmouk FM, the students will still be on their break from studies. This will be the perfect time for me to deliver a short version of this training to them, to pass on my MIL knowledge before we return to broadcasting on Yarmouk FM”.
For Mohammad Hasanat, Director of Radio and TV at Al Hussein bin Talal University in Ma’an, the MIL training is enhancing his understanding of how to digest media and disseminate information ethically. “It is so important for me to pass this along to my students and volunteers at Sawt al Janoub, the need to distinguish fact from fiction. Currently, I have a lack of staff and volunteers at Sawt and I hope these new skills will help me to attract more volunteers”.
This important initiative falls within UNESCO’s mandate of encouraging freedom of expression. UNESCO believes that free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online are needed in order to ensure the free flow of ideas, optimize progress and build knowledge societies. The objectives of the ‘Youth Empowerment’ project align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically targeting SDG 16, which strives to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.