By Hanae Ait Hattani
Fez – Morocco: Since our early childhood, we have become literate by learning to read and write through the process of reciting the alphabet and recognizing when and how the alphabet and symbols come together to form words and sentences.
In today’s world, messages are not just words and symbols; they come in a variety of diverse sources such as radio, TV, and the Internet. On a daily basis, people world-wide find themselves bombarded with media messages, many of which are misunderstood, ultimately causing problems in terms of distinguishing truth and perception.
Hence, literacy in another set of symbols is necessary. It is crucial for society to become well-versed in the skills needed to recognize when and how this new set of symbols— the media— is put together to form messages; an objective that can only be achieved through Media Information Literacy (MIL).
According to the Center of Media Literacy (CML), media literacy is applied in a variety of contexts: reading the newspaper, watching TV, surfing the web, commenting on social networks pages, blogs and other platforms. Media literacy, much like mainstream literacy, can be taught and subsequently learned; its role is to bring forth critical thinkers, effective communicators and active participants rather than passive consumers. In effect, media literacy enables media users to form an educated interpretation of what they see or hear rather than allowing the interpretation control their understanding.
UNESCO is at the top of the list in terms of most prevalent organizations dealing with issues related to media and education. It has been interested in MIL and worked to explore new initiatives to further support the program worldwide with the overall goal to enable users (especially students) to develop informed judgments on information sources and therefore strengthen their civic participation and engagement within a democratic community.
Morocco is one of the Arab countries that have drawn significant attention to media and information literacy. In 2013, the Moroccan Ministry of Education integrated an independent module of 20 hours on MIL into their national teacher-training curriculum. This was achieved within the framework of the UNESCO initiated project to support MIL in the educational system seeing as teachers are the gateway to literate and democratic societies.
After UNESCO’s MIL curriculum for teachers was launched in June 2011 and adopted by the first international forum on MIL. It regarded competency in media and information literacy as necessary to achieve sustainable development and partake in the consolidation of peace, freedom, democracy and good governance. The University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdillah, the Sais-Fes faculty of arts and human sciences with the collaboration of a number of organizations such as the UNITWIN, the UN Alliance of Civilization and the Doha Center for Media Freedom organized a training session on media and information literacy for teachers on February 18-19 of 2014 in Sais-Fes.
Twenty-five teachers from different schools benefited from this training session which focused on new pedagogical approaches to enable them integrate MIL in their classrooms.
This assembly was characterized by the participation of experts in the field of media and media education who delivered lectures and animated workshops emphasizing interaction, exchange of information and viewpoints. This effort was primarily aimed at providing teachers with the main competences, skills and tools that will allow them and their students to understand the main functions of media.
Furthermore, it was designed to critically analyze and evaluate media content in order to produce and interpret an informed understanding of the source. Eventually, partnership and collaboration between the various stakeholders including the government, regulators, educators, researchers, parents, organizations and associations should encourage initiatives to ensure the implementation of the MIL program in Morocco and follow up on its progress.
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