200 Youth Gear up for Media and Information Literacy Summer Camp
When 19-year-old Mohammed Alnajjar joined the the Media and Information Literacy summer camp in Ramallah, Palestine, he could not hide his concern about how youth know very little about the importance of digital media and the identification of reliable and quality content.
"Digital media was a big concern to me, as a law student I always thought it is very important to raise awareness on digital media topics. The problem is that there is no training in this field and you can only find few people who are aware of this concept,” says Mohammed. "I think this camp gave us a great opportunity to know more about this topic and to learn how to manage and protect our digital data."
Like Mohammad, 200 young women and men participated in the Media and Information Literacy (MIL) summer camps organized in the West Bank and Gaza (August 5-14, 2017) by NET-MED Youth in partnership with the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA), a member organization of NET-MED Youth.
The camps aimed to empower 18-to-25-year-old Palestinian women and men, members of youth organizations and media graduates, “to understand the functions of media and other information providers, to critically evaluate their content, and to make informed decisions as users and producers of information and media content (source)”. The summer camps offered several capacity-building sessions on media and information literacy skills and digital media.
"Today, we get a series of news items, and the information about these is often different from one agency to another. We get confused and feel misled," says Maryam Naji, 23 years old from the Gaza Strip. "This training camp taught me how to verify information because both media and information play an essential role in our daily lives."
The training sessions were diverse and covered, as well, smart phone press.
"I didn't believe in the effectiveness of using smart phones for news reporting before participating in the MIL Summer Camps," says Lilas Alkilany, 18 years old from Jineen. "Now I trust I can be a good news reporter using only my smart phone. I have decided that I will also pursue my university studies in media."
The participants got hands-on experience practicing the art and craft of media and journalism.
"This is the first time I use my mobile phone to do media reporting and produce videos. I feel I just broke the barrier I had before with the camera," says Shadi Safi, 19 years old from Ramallah. "I think this will positively guide my future career."
The summer camps are part of a long journey that UNESCO is leading. The Organization is a global leader in promoting MIL as a tool for sustainable development. Enhancing media and information literacy (MIL) as well as intercultural competencies among youth organizations, teachers and other stakeholders is a key action of UNESCO’s strategy to promote knowledge societies and foster the development of free, independent and pluralistic media and universal access to information and knowledge for good governance.
"I am in my sophomore year in the Media Department at the university, and I have never come across the definition of ‘Media and Information Literacy’ during my two years of study,” says Sewar Al Zaa’neen, 19 years old from the Gaza Strip. "The camp provided us with substantial information we were unaware of. I am happy I participated in the camp. Now I learnt what a Media student really needs to know and I will definitely raise awareness among my colleagues about MIL.”
Through MIL trainings, NET-MED Youth aims at ensuring that every woman and man, particularly youth, can exercise their rights to freedom of opinion, expression and access to information – to be actors in, and beneficiaries of, sustainable development. Thus, the gap between the information rich and the information poor in society can be decreased, and we can all set the basis for a more sustainable future.
Mohammed Alnajjar is today ready to go back home with a fresh motivation, a new vision of his environment and new knowledge gained at the MIL summer camp in Ramallah.
“What is more important today is that we pass this knowledge on to our peers in the community,” says Mohammed. “I have already started, with my close friend Mohammed who could not join us at the camp.”
The challenge for us all is to keep the work going, to transfer our knowledge and to widen the scope of individuals who are media and information literate. As the world moves towards knowledge societies, timely access to relevant, useful and quality information is critical to making informed decisions and improving the lives of people.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.