Call for media literacy education in Mideast
June 14 2013 01:08 AM
 Asmaa al-Mohannadi, Jordi Torrent and Jan Keulen at the press conference.
Asmaa al-Mohannadi, Jordi Torrent and Jan Keulen at the press conference.

By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter

A three-day conference on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) hosted by the  Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) yesterday called for educating the younger generation as well as the “stake-holders” about the benefits of acquiring “critical thinking” skills.
The Doha Declaration adopted by DCMF called for incorporating Media and Information Literacy (MIL) education into the school curriculum in the region. It also recommends the formation of a steering committee comprising of 6-10 MIL experts for sharing ideas and programmes in the field in the Arab region.
The declaration on supporting MIL education in the Middle East was adopted on the concluding day of the meeting of the experts from the region.
Announcing the declaration at a press conference, DCMF Director Jan Keulen said that Qatar was in the forefront of media literacy information in the region.
The  meeting was attended by representatives of Unesco office in Qatar, Beirut as well as various other organisations from the region. Many of the prominent Qatari organisations such as Supreme Education Council, Qatar University, ictQATAR, also took part in the discussions.
The declaration includes four observations and 14 recommendations. It points out that developing an understanding about MIL among education policymakers in the region is a major challenge. It suggests that there shall be a provision for sustainable training programme, research and curricula for teachers.
Another recommendation is the introduction of interactive methods in classrooms. It finds that effective communication is lacking at the moment. Similarly many countries face  difficulties as a result of socio-economic and political issues and this should be met with an increased involvement of government for MIL education to overcome such situations.
Other important recommendations in the declaration are creating all-inclusive MIL programmes for women in the region, creating socially-inclusive MIL programmes for visually-impaired, special needs children and the disabled.
It also suggests to  include  parents and caretakers in MIL education to contribute to the development of a viewpoint which sees MIL as an extension of general literacy. National and international networks within the Arab region should be established to share knowledge and resources among  the stakeholders and encourage countries in the region to engage in MIL.
The document  highlights that recognition of the value and benefits of MIL education as a fundamental necessity for the development of MIL at every level. According to the Declaration, international organisations such as Unesco, UNAOC as well as Arab League and other organisations may advocate for MIL education at the highest levels to enlighten governments’ views of MIL and share ideas for the introduction of national  policies in this regard.
The declaration  calls for a shift  in the approach to teaching and providing information. It says  that  a lifelong approach to learning should be adopted and interactive methods of education should be introduced in classrooms to develop critical thinking skills. Librarians and media professionals should play a more prominent role in helping students understand and process information and they should work closely with the teachers and professors.  
The declaration  suggests that there should be an annual meeting of the experts in MIL in the Arab region. It also calls for s mapping MIL across the Arab region.
Project Manager for MIL Programmes at the United National Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Jordi Torrent and Asmaa al-Mohannadi, Education Institute Head, Higher Education Council, Supreme Education Council were also present at the briefing. Page 2

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