Over 80 stakeholders gathered in Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, giving MIL a strong impulse for progress. These actors reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating the development of media and information literacy (MIL) policies and strategies in the country. This dedication was demonstrated at UNESCO and European Commission-supported National Consultations on MIL Policies and Strategies, which was held on 23 April 2018.
The event gathered policymakers, media experts, professors, educators, librarians and other information intermediaries, youth, civil society and international development community stakeholders. The Faculty of Political Sciences of Sarajevo University, with the cooperation of Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) for UNESCO, is leading the process.
Fulfillment of the roles in digital world
“Discussion on the policies and strategies of MIL in B&H relies on UNESCO's composite concept, which includes a combination of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices required to seek, access, critically analyze, evaluate, and use/engage wisely with information, media, and technology. In B&H, MIL policies are necessary not only for citizens, but for authorities in order to fulfill their role in the digital world” said Dr Emir Vajzović, on behalf of the organizer, Faculty of Political Sciences.
MIL policies and strategies can open spaces for constructive dialogue between citizens of different ethnic, religious, ideological and political groups. They also offer a framework for finding adequate answers to current problems of disinformation.
“MIL policies should reach all layers of the population and prevent situations that lead to the divisions in a society - to those who have access to information and those who do not have it; those who know how to use digital technologies and those who do not know; to those who have the competence of critically analyzing media messages and digital information and those who do not have it” said Prof. Dr Rifat Skrijel, University of Sarajevo Rector.
MIL important for everyone
Recalling that the rapid development of information technologies led to the transformation of traditional information and media, Mr Sinisa Sesum, Head of UNESCO Antenna Office in Sarajevo, pointed out that UNESCO proposed in 2007 MIL as a composite concept. "A media and information literate person understands the nature of the role and function of the media and other information providers in society, and critically assesses information and media content. MIL is important for everyone,” he said. He concluded that the MIL policy articulation process in B&H should be followed through to an effective and purposive end as a lot is at stake.
Ms Zeljka Sulc from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in B&H emphasized that the “comprehensive approach to security, which we aspire to in the OSCE, implies that citizens themselves think and make decisions about their present and future, which is, I believe, the core of media and information literacy. MIL also implies intolerance of hatred and hate speech. A comprehensive approach to security requires and presupposes the fight against false information and against propaganda”.
Roadmap for MIL development
The recommendations from the Consultations are focused on harmonization of public policy and the development of new policies and strategies where necessary. Participants highlighted the crucial task of strengthening the role of libraries, information institutions and other key actors in the lifelong learning process, in particular learning with the support of new media and technologies.
National consultations are one of several important steps in the roadmap for MIL development in B&H. Policy and strategy recommendations from the national consultations will be incorporated in the National Position Paper on MIL jointly with the Ministry.
The consultative meeting took place at the University of Sarajevo Rectorate Gala Hall, within the framework of the joint UNESCO and EU funded project Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey, which seeks to strengthen media and information literacy, as well as freedom of expression, access to information, free, independent and pluralistic media in the SEE region. For more information, please contact Alton Grizzle or Tatjana Ljubic.