Building momentum for Media and Information Literacy (MIL)

Morocco’s commemoration of the Global MIL Week in Rabat this week put Media and Information Literacy at the centre-stage of stakeholder attention.

It took place against the backdrop of the world’s first RADIOMIL, operating on a temporary broadcast licence and engaging a team of young people with listeners in Rabat on the subject what competencies were needed to be on top of today’s information environment.

During the week, UNESCO officials interacted with national government, civil society actors, and academics, as well as representatives of African communications regulatory bodies.

“MIL is not a luxury. It is a lifeskill in the digital age”, said Guy Berger UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development in a keynote address at the official opening event.

As an example, he stated that: “MIL can help each of us understand that free services and apps are a business model where you, the user, are the product, with your data being harvested and valorised. It’s a price we pay for these wonderful facilities, and we need to be aware of it and avoid being over-exploited”.

Instead of being overwhelmed, or manipulated by the unavoidable engagement with an ever-expanding information environment, MIL empowered people to engage with the diverse mass of communications they receive, share and produce, he noted.

Part of the week included a special conference of African communications regulators, assessing the link between the protection of children and MIL. It was opened by Amina Lemrini Elouahabi, chair of the Moroccan communications regulatory authority, and Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, president of the African regulators' association ACRAN/RIARC.

Speaking to the regulators, Berger drew attention Sustainable Development Goal 16.10, which calls for public access to information and fundamental freedoms. “It is in relation to achieving this wonderful objective, that that you the regulators can see how important it is to have MIL.”

MIL is also a way that regulators can help to address the rights of children to expression, access to information, and to protection, said Berger. “It is about preparing children for this new world of information, something that only seeking to shield them from it cannot do.  It is about building defenses in the minds of children, and strengthening their capacity to use communications for individual and societal benefit,” he added.

The Director encouraged the regulators to expand their outreach to the public to explain the why and how of their regulatory activities, and to consider inserting into broadcast licenses the obligation of contributing to MIL in one way or another.

Partners in the MIL Week included four ministries, the communications and telecommunications regulatory authorities, national commissions, educational institutes, and the country’s journalist union. Financing for many of the events came from the European Union Netmed project, Spain, Sweden and Finland.