27 August, 2018 — Since 2014, the “Support to Media in Jordan” project has worked to support Jordan’s efforts in advancing Jordanian media to further increase its freedom, independence and professionalism. Media and Information Literacy is a key component of the project. With generous funding from the European Union (EU), UNESCO contributed to introduce the MIL concept and best practises in Jordan working with Universities, schools and civil society organisations.
In line with these objectives, and with significant and continued support from the EU, UNESCO selected 12 participants to attend training. The sixth annual Media and Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut (MDLAB) was hosted at the Institute of Media Research and Training at the Lebanese American University. MDLAB works to expand media and digital literacy education in the Arab world, providing training, curricula, resources and motivating faculty to transfer what they have learned back to their institutions.
Waleed Al-Jallad, Media Counsellor and Ministry of Education (MoE) spokesperson was thrilled to attend the 12 days of training. “I believe in the necessity of media literacy; it is not simply a luxury anymore. Here, I have developed my MIL skills and learned about international MIL experiences, and also enjoyed the technical training included in the program”.
MIL recognizes the primary role of information and media in our everyday lives, empowering citizens to fully understand the functions of media and other information providers, critically evaluate content and make informed decisions. MIL has proven to be among the most effective responses to promoting tolerance, dialogue and peace and countering hate speech and online polarization.
Mr. Al-Jallad has big plans for implementing what he has learned at MDLAB, “Once back in Jordan, we will draft a comprehensive work plan and discuss it with decision makers at the MoE and UNESCO colleagues”.
Also in attendance was Dr. Doa’a Tobeiri, Head of Student Services at Al Hussein Bin Talal University. “The MDLAB program aims at transferring the modern media information to raise the awareness of our students on the concepts of freedom of expression and critical thinking, so they will be able to produce media materials instead of only acting as consumers” she shared. “The program has been wonderful; we have benefited from the lectures and the technical workshops, which will help us to establish our MIL curriculum and transfer these experiences to students”.
Over the course of 10 days, participants took part in lectures, workshops, and panel discussions presented by a variety of professionals from the field of media. Topics ranged from media literacy, fake news, free media in the Middle East, media for social justice, fighting extremism through media, media and marginalized minorities, alternative media campaigns and more. Through MDLAB content, the Academy works to develop Media and Digital Literacy curricula, including modules and training manuals, course plans, multimedia and case studies.
Dr. Reem Zoubi, Faculty of Education at Al al Bayt University, will be teaching the MIL course in September the University and thoroughly enjoyed the 200+ hours of training she received in Beirut. “Teaching MIL will be a great challenge that I feel prepared for now and excited about”. Registration for Dr. Reem’s upcoming course is already at full capacity. “The students are very eager to learn about MIL and I hope to be able to impart what I have learned. Some of the topics at MDLAB focused on gender and this subject is still taboo in some parts of Jordan. However, I feel that if we transfer what we have learned carefully, we will ensure that students are able to open their minds”.
All participants expressed their sincere gratitude to the EU and UNESCO for supporting their attendance at the training. This year, MDLAB hosted over 70 participants from countries including Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Gambia, Syria, Germany, and Bulgaria. Regionally, MDLAB has successfully introduced media and digital literacy to 30 Arab Universities as well as a handful of schools across some 12 Arab countries.