The media literacy on the public agenda

The first edition of the Media Literacy Conference of the Center for Independent Journalism

19 May 2021

BUCHAREST, May 19, 2021 - The Media Literacy Conference "The every day exam: How to pass the disinformation test using media literacy" took place between May 14-15, having been organized by the Center for Independent Journalism with the support of UNICEF, in partnership with the Romanian-American Foundation.

During the two days of the event, students, teachers, journalists and civil society activists were able to listen and watch live, on the Facebook page of UNICEF in Romania and of the Center for Independent Journalism, the representatives of the national and international education authorities, learned how students students graduating from the media education workshops think, met the teachers who transformed the classroom teaching model through their creativity and found out the perspectives of the NGOs that have been contributing to national media education efforts for many years.

"The media literacy program we have been running since 2016, together with the Center for Independent Journalism, now has a community of almost 100 teachers and has provided educational services to over 17,500 high school students. The program is scaled up to 600 teachers from 100 pilot schools. Why is media literacy important? Only 1% of 15-year-olds, according to the PISA study, are able to tell the difference between fact and opinion, which is awful for any society. And, on the other hand, an OECD study shows that the most suitable place for change to take place is the school ", said Roxana Vitan, President of the Romanian-American Foundation and moderator of the first session, held on Friday.

"Through media literacy, we teach students how to identify the correct information, how to decipher a message, whether they see it on TV, Youtube or Instagram or find it out from friends. We are all interested in having children prepared for the real world. The last year has shown us how fast we can have polarized societies, given that the information reaches us from multiple sources", said Cristina Lupu, Executive Director of the Center for Independent Journalism.

"Investing in education in general and in media literacy in particular is an investment in our present and future security. We can now clearly see the harmful effects of insufficient investment in education: the huge amount of misinformation circulating daily, the speed with which this false information circulates and the dramatic effects it has on human health and our ability to stop the pandemic through vaccination and safety measures", said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.

"In many cases, we are exposed in public to opinions. On television or on social networks, different people or personalities transmit their visions and beliefs to us. But we want to form our own and that is why media literacy is necessary, so that we can independently analyze the messages we receive", said Teodor Adrian Chiper, member of the Children's Board supported by UNICEF.

"Media skills are indispensable, especially in a context where interaction with information, but especially with misinformation has become part of our current lives, but also part of the learning process. Once the educational process moves even partially into a blended or online system, it is clear that filtering information sources becomes essential (...) The basics of media literacy help students to be safe: psychologically, informationally and physically” , said Ligia Deca, Presidential Adviser, Department of Education and Research.

"The young generation must have media skills. (...) School is the place where the foundations are laid for the new generation of citizens, and teachers are the first to shape the future, an increasingly connected future in which students need new skills to help them be informed and responsible citizens. Students must be prepared for the real world, therefore, it is desirable that media literacy to be present in the school activities", said Monica Anisie, President of the Education Commission of the Romanian Senate.

"Media literacy transcends a discipline, although at the moment we focus through this pilot program on Romanian teachers and related disciplines, I think that media literacy must be something transversal, to be studied in science classes including. Interpreting media data from a scientific perspective is very important in order to understand what is happening and to be able to fight false news. I hope that in these moments, when the framework plans for high school are rethought, and next year we will work on very modern curricula, I hope, to be able to include transversal media literacy in disciplines that, apparently, have nothing to do with this matter. The Ministry of Education could also rethink the competence profiles of graduates, in order to further highlight the need to have skills in interpreting information, fighting misinformation, knowing and understanding how the media works”, said Radu Szekely, Secretary of State for Equity and Equal Opportunities in the Ministry of Education.

"In the midst of a pandemic, it becomes all the more important to have the necessary media skills to properly judge a news link. At European level, we have put media literacy efforts at the heart of our policies, especially those of this Commission. Media literacy is an important element of the European Plan for Democracy. We have included three key pillars in this plan: the first concerns the election and the ways in which we can help people to have as much freedom of vote as possible, strongly linked to their ability to inform themselves; we also address the issue of media diversity and we also look at the issue of media diversity, as well as that of misinformation. (...) The revised media directive places media education at the heart of regulatory plans, as it obliges Member States to have media education programs, to promote it and to report to the Commission on their strategies and their implementation by 2022 - therefore next year", said Anna Herold, Head of the Audiovisual & Media Services Policy Unit, European Commission.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to students and teachers who received training in the media literacy, but also to representatives of civil society. While students talked about the needs for media literacy from the perspective of those still in school, teachers who graduated from the Media Literacy Program shared with the public how they used the notions learned to transform the teaching experience in the classroom. The last session, dedicated to civil society, discussed how actors in the non-governmental area contribute to media litercy efforts.

The Center for Independent Journalism supports teachers and high school students in Romania in the development of media skills to support the growth of a generation of better informed citizens, who actively participate in civic life. The approach is part of the IJC's Media Literacy Program, developed in partnership with the Romanian American Foundation and supported by UNICEF in Romania.

Media contacts

Cătălin Pruteanu
Media Consultant
UNICEF Romania
Tel: + 40 726 107 799

About UNICEF

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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

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