DCMF’s Media, Information and Literacy programme has trained almost 600 students from all around Qatar in the past year.
As part of Doha Centre for Media Freedom’s commitment to promoting quality journalism and defending media freedom in Qatar, the Arab world and across the globe, the centre has been providing Media and Information Literacy education to over 600 students, empowering them with the ability to consume media effectively and prevent the spread of misinformation.
The centre has developed a flagship MIL programme which has been introduced to around 90 schools in Qatar, as well as a number of other schools across the region. The programme now has 14 full time trainers, including six Qatari nationals, and is conducted in Arabic and English languages for students from primary and secondary schools.
At a time when the number of media platforms available to readers continues to increase, the need to educate youngsters about the importance of being media literate has never been so pressing. This is particularly important in Qatar, which was shown by the UN as leading the developing world in terms of individual internet usage in 2013, and as having the fourth highest number of Facebook users in the Arab world.
Addressing Qatar’s needs
MIL education is a relatively new concept, and DCMF quickly identified a need for the subject to be addressed in Qatar. When the programme was launched, there was a lack of data related to the needs of teachers and students, and so the centre began by launching a survey of local teachers.
The findings of this survey determined the direction the initiative would take, and it quickly became clear that while media was being used in classrooms across Qatar, there was a distinct lack of awareness about the concept of MIL and the importance of educating youngsters in this field.
Following its launch in 2011, DCMF’s MIL programme has become one of the most successful of its type around the world. Through working closely with organisations such as UNESCO and UNAOC, DCMF has built a model for MIL education which is widely recognised as a pioneering effort in the field.
A cornerstone of the centre’s programme is the Junior Reporters initiative which takes students from the world of media consumption to media production. DCMF’s Junior Reporters have covered events ranging from the UN Alliance of Civilisations in 2011, through to the UN Forum on Media and Gender in Bangkok in 2013. This week, our junior reporters were in Paris covering UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations on their blog through news stories, photos and video interviews.
Through creating news stories and learning about media production, young participants gain a much more comprehensive understanding of media in general.
MIL in the future
Through partnership with global organisations, particularly UNESCO, DCMF intends to continue to spread awareness of MIL education and to educate young people and teachers across the Arab world.
The centre is working towards the ultimate goal of introducing an element of MIL education to the national school curriculum to ensure that the values embodied in MIL are taught to every student in Qatar.
There is also an immediate need to train as many teachers as possible to be able to host workshops at schools across the region, something which the centre is working on.
Last year, DCMF hosted an experts meeting on MIL education in the Arab world, which brought together international practitioners from the field to discuss the best ways to develop this facet of education in the region.
Youngsters “need to be media literate”
DCMF remains firmly committed to promoting quality journalism around the world, with a specific focus on the Arab region. While it is important to develop the capacities of those responsible for producing the news, it is also essential to educate consumers about how to process the information to which they are being exposed.
Recognising the interests of news-producers and the motivating factors behind a story, as well as the veracity of the sources used and the professionalism of the piece are integral factors in consumers being able to fully comprehend the media.
Modern society exposes us to more news, images and videos than ever before, and this trend is only set to increase in the future. As our youngsters are given more information to process, it is essential to ensure that they are able to process it correctly, so as to enable them to be fully active participants within society.
In this regard, DCMF remains steadfast in its commitment to delivering MIL education to students in Qatar and the region, as a result of its belief that: “Reading and writing doesn’t do it anymore, you need to be Media Literate.”
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