Media and Information Literacy as a tool for development is now recognized by countries around the world. For nine years, UNESCO and many partners have been promoting awareness about media and information literacy (MIL) through Global MIL Week. On 25 November 2019, one hundred and ninety-three countries unanimously proclaimed Global MIL Week as official at the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference.
According to Mr. Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO, “ by marking the official proclamation of Global Media and Information Literacy Week, UNESCO’s message to the world is that media and information literacy is key to empowering all peoples. This decision by UNESCO now puts media and information literacy firmly on the international development agenda and calendar. This change has been long coming.”
This proclamation comes on the heels of Global MIL Week 2019, which saw over 200 celebratory events in over 100 countries. At the Global MIL Week 2019 Youth Agenda Forum, young entertainers and MIL advocates penned and performed a song about MIL called, This is the Day. The song stressed that the time is now to be informed, engaged, and empowered. It was an inspiration! The Youth Agenda Forum was co-organized by UNESCO, the County Council Region Västra Götaland and the University of Gothenburg in partnership with the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.
Continuing this artistic freedom that UNESCO promotes, the following Ode to MIL was written, What if Media and Information Literacy: A journey to a media and information literate world.
UNESCO has a vision for Media and Information Literacy. One could call it, poetically, a dream. Come on a journey with UNESCO with this short poem:
What if Media and Information Literacy: A journey to a media and information literate world
What if the dream that started 37 years ago with the Grunwald Declaration on Media Education in 1982, and even longer before, was realized?
What if a mega partnership was forged around MIL by organizations such as the European Commission, UNESCO, African Union, Organization of American States, Council of Europe, the Arab League, CARICOM, ASEAN, the UN, and many others?
What if every country had a national MIL policy linked to their education, information, media, communication, ICTs and youth policies…?
What if every teacher received training on MIL…?
What if MIL was part of every curriculum at all levels of education?
What if the networks for Media Literacy or Information Literacy, were, in fact, all alliances for Media and Information Literacy - uniting cooperation across disciplines, repositories, and platforms?
What if every country around the world had a national MIL Alliance?
What if Global MIL Week celebrations, around the world, were to grow from over 200 events in 2019 to 500 events in 2020?
What if every time you listen to the news, read a book, you could see it in 4D, meanings of different messages, from all sides, and omitted or hidden information comes to the fore?
What if Artificial Intelligence could support MIL learning online by design?
What if all social media platforms around the world seriously promote MIL? Meaning, they seriously promote MIL.
What if media, every media, truly meet MIL? That is, what if they promoted MIL as part of their business model?
What if every city became a MIL City?
What if the 128 countries with access to information laws, review these to ensure that promoting media and information literacy is integral to the implementation and monitoring of these laws?
What if the 70% of youth worldwide who are on the internet acquire MIL competencies?
What If every capacity building programme about gender equality included MIL training to help identify and counter gender stereotypes in media, online, and in all types of information?
What if the 781 million illiterate adults and the 262 million young people out of schools around the world benefitted from not only basic literacy programmes, but also ones that include MIL?
What if we believe these things could happen? Or what if we believe that at least some of these could really happen?
What if we were to combine our collective visions?
Then we would wake up…
What if we wake up and we were not dreaming. What if we really are in a MIL World?
What if we realize that it is not the mountain of information that we conquer but ourselves…?
Then, only then, change would come..!
Yes, these are many questions. But they are relevant to the purpose of Global MIL Week. They are about the challenges and opportunities that we will face as we collectively promote MIL for all.
UNESCO looks forward to cooperating with all stakeholders to promote media and information literacy globally. It is a concern of all of us.
This is UNESCO's vision, this is the dream, let us be a part of it! For more information contact Alton Grizzle, firstname.lastname@example.org.