Media Literacy empowers citizens to contribute to a culture of peace

Asiya Naqvi, Class XII  interviews Catharina Bucht , the Information Coordinator and Editor of the International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media, Nordicom, University of Gothenburg on different dimensions of Media Literacy

1.    Media Literacy Education has been making a very uneven progress. In some countries it has made rapid strides while in many others it is still in its infancy. How do we plug this gap?

One way could be to share and spread information about successful projects, to make use of the good work done by others and adapting this to your own context. A lot of resources are available online and through networking you do not have to start from scratch. Including media literacy education in teacher training is another important way in reaching out to schools.

Other ways that can be used are identifying concerned parties /stakeholders (authorities, ministers of education, culture, civic justice, media companies etc.) and raising awareness among them, perhaps by pointing towards/taking part in the international discussion of media and information literacy (within UNESCO for example). Raising public awareness of how this connects to human rights issues.

2.    What do you think are the reasons for the lack of progress in media literacy education in many regions of the world?

Other issues may be considered more urgent, for example raising school enrolment. Some may also think there is a need for advanced and expensive technical equipment. However, media and information literacy concerns fundamental human rights such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, and media literacy education can be exercised without access to advanced technology.

Media and information literacy concerns and involves many different stakeholders, authorities etc. and this can be an advantage but also a challenge in coordinating the work, realizing that there are many different contributors actually working towards the same goal. National policies and public debate can be useful to raise awareness and model a concerted pathway.

3.    What kind of methods do you suggest we should adopt to enhance participation in media literacy programmes in third world countries?

Make use of information and knowledge that is available. Learn from others and adapt to your own setting and context. Engage in different (international)networks for exchange of experiences, information and ideas. Stress the importance of media and information literacy as an essential competence for anyone who wants to be able to understand, evaluate, use and express themselves through media and other channels for information and how this can raise the self-esteem and the feeling of empowerment. You are your own experts but don’t forget to take advantage of good work that is already done.

4.    How do you think media literacy can contribute to a culture of peace?

Media and information literacy is important from a perspective of democracy and active citizenship. To be able to fully participate in a society, to exercise your fundamental human rights, you need to be able to express yourself freely and have access to different sources of information but you must also learn to respect, evaluate and share opinions of others. Empowered and informed citizens in a democratic and open society feel less threatened and this is hopefully contributing to a culture of peace.

5.    What are the ways in which we young reporters who are part of media literacy programmes contribute to promoting dialogues among young people from diverse communities?

By presenting different stories from different voices in your media channels. Raising the voices of young people/groups of people who may not have access to a public voice and opening up for dialogue. By using the media you have access to in a sensible and respectful way.

6.    What is the message you want to give to The Peace Gong reporters?

From what I have seen your work is admirable and very ambitious. I am impressed by your commitment and engagement in this issue and know that you are making a difference. Keep up the good work!

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