Doha Centre for Media Freedom recently concluded an experts’ meeting on media and information literacy (MIL), with participants adopting the Doha Declaration on Supporting Media and Information Literacy Education in the Middle East.
The meeting which was held between June 11-13 in Doha brought together international and regional experts on the subject of MIL, to discuss the best ways forward to improve MIL education in the Arab world.
While the long term aim includes the introduction of MIL education into national curricula, short term initiatives in Qatar have seen students learning about the subject through extra-curricular activities.
DCMF’s work in promoting MIL in Qatar was widely praised throughout the event, with a number of experts suggesting that the centre take an even more prominent role in developing the subject across the region, something which it has recently been working towards.
DCMF director, Jan Keulen highlighted the importance that the centre places upon developing MIL education, describing how developing critical thinking skills and other facets of MIL play a major role in developing and defending press freedom. He also thanked the participants, praising the wide range of organisations and nations which were represented at the event.
“A new energy and enthusiasm”
Head of Scientific Research at the Supreme Education Council (SEC) Dr Asmaa Al-Mohannadi said that the meeting had enriched the council’s understanding of MIL, explaining that Qatar is “very keen” on developing education in line with international standards.
Project manager for MIL programmes at the United Nations Alliance of Civisilisations (UNAOC) Jordi Torrent said: “Qatar is at the forefront of MIL and we praise DCMF and Qatar for their work, I think that out of this meeting, a new energy and enthusiasm for MIL has emerged.”
“We have achieved something which is not easy, to have agreement between different organisations from different parts of the world which will further develop MIL across the region.”
Programme specialist from UNESCO, Alton Grizzle who gave a video presentation during the workshop, argued that providing MIL education has the power to transform misconceptions, form attitudes and enable freedoms which can change peoples’ lives.
Grizzle underscored the need for national MIL policies and strategies, He suggested that a framework should be developed based on relevant polices relating media, ICTs, freedom of expression, and communication. He gave a snapshot of the model Guidelines for Articulating MIL Policies and Strategies soon to be released by UNESCO which he said will be a useful resource for all countries.
The Doha Declaration on Supporting Media and Information Literacy Education in the Middle East, contains a number of recommendations on how best to incorporate the subject of MIL in schools, other educational institutions and throughout society in general.
The declaration highlighted the difficulties facing organisations trying to develop MIL education in countries where a lack of political will exists, and emphasised the importance of helping stakeholders recognise the significance of MIL and the development of key skills and competencies towards which it contributes.
Recommendations within the declaration focused on increasing this awareness, while also proposing better communication between MIL organisations and the development of networks to share resources and improve the MIL landscape in the Arab region.
The declaration also highlighted the importance of adopting a hands-on approach for youngsters to learn about how the media work. DCMF’s ever-expanding team of Young Reporters, who covered the entire event, provided a clear example of how such initiatives can result in great success.
Participants agreed that exchange programmes should be established to further such initiatives and develop cross-cultural understanding.
Senior coordinator for MIL at DCMF, Rania Khaled Al-Hussaini said: “I believe that this meeting went well and exceeded our expectations. We had a good representation of experts from different parts of the world, and we have opened up many new channels for collaboration in the future.”
“I am also very pleased with the declaration as it is clear, practical and strategic and provides concrete recommendations for developing MIL in the region in the future,” she added.
To read the Doha Declaration on Supporting Media and Information Literacy Education in the Middle East in its entirety, click here.