UNESCO Regional Office Abuja Commemorates Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021


Today, information reaching individuals around the world continues to increase dramatically. The question, however, remains, how can people access, search, evaluate, use and contribute to such content wisely, both online and offline?

With the current ecosystem of complex and conflicting messages and meanings, it is important for society to be equipped with knowledge-based literacy skills to understand the issues, contribute and benefit from the information and communication opportunities for a peaceful society. . Providers and receivers of information should be equipped with media and information literacy skills to facilitate good communication and the availability of the right information and to mitigate the threats of misinformation.

As part of its program to promote a peaceful society, UNESCO and key stakeholders annually commemorate World Media and Information Literacy Week to unite various actors engaged in promoting media and information literacy (MIL) as a means of fostering social inclusion and intercultural dialogue. .

This year marks 10 years since the seeds of Global Media and Information Literacy Week were planted in 2011 in Fez, Morocco. This was long before the exponential rise of misinformation, political polarization, the growing influence of digital platforms, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021 was hosted by South Africa under the theme “Media and Information Literacy for the Public Good”.

The UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja also commemorated this noble day with a webinar on October 26, 2021. Media and information literacy stakeholders in Nigeria were invited to discuss how best to mitigate the challenges faced with misinformation and lack of information. The infodemic observed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic makes the importance of such a webinar all the more appropriate.

In his welcoming remarks, the Director of the Dakar Regional Office and the OIC of the Abuja Regional Office, Mr. Dimitri SANGA reminded the stakeholders of the importance of media and information literacy, which should be seen as a sustainable solution to building public resilience and advancing the role of information as a public good.

The representative of the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Buki Ponle, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, said that “the media is a real instrument for promoting the public good”. He further said, “The challenge facing the media is to aid and nurture Nigeria’s nascent democracy by adhering to the code of ethics of the journalism profession, which includes the promotion of truth and accuracy.” .

The webinar, which was organized in partnership with the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) and the African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRIMIL), brought together more than a hundred participants from from government, media partners, academia, CSOs and other partners, who engaged in a lively discussion following the presentation of the paper by the two speakers.

Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRICMIL, speaking on the theme of the year, said: “Media and information literacy serves a plethora of purposes, the most important of which is the creation of a environment conducive to dialogue and peaceful coexistence. MIL serves as an antidote to misinformation and disinformation, which have fueled social crisis, especially during a pandemic.” He added: “The information we consume has a direct effect on how we manage interpersonal relationships and coexistence within and between communities.” Thus, “media and information literacy is a public good and as a public good it needs public support”.

In his diary, Building Public Trust Amid Media Complexities in the Internet Age, Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Professor of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, said: “The fight against fake news is a fight to ensure the dissemination of truth and the absence of undue influence in cyberspace. Citizens must be equipped with the right mindset on how to communicate online, access and analyze information disseminated by the media. A media literate citizen will be equipped to interpret, create and act critically on media messages”.

At the end of the webinar, participants agreed on the need for more efforts to equip society with media and information literacy skills to better understand the issues and contribute to a peaceful society.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

© Press Release 2021


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