As the world moves towards ‘knowledge societies’, timely access to relevant, useful and quality information is critical for making informed decisions and improving the lives of the people. With the convergence of new communication technologies with media, the ascent of the Internet and social media, as well as the growing use of computer and mobile devices, the promises of information and media have increased manifold.
In the evolving knowledge societies however, some people are overloaded with information, while others are starved for information. This situation obtains especially in Africa and other developing countries where most people are yearning to freely express themselves and to actively participate in governance and development processes and cultural exchanges; a deep quest for today’s citizens to understand the dynamic world they are living in.
According to Communications Authority of Kenya, the uptake of mobile services by Kenyans has grown exponentially to 88.1 percent of the total population in 2016. Considerable gains have also been recorded in the Internet/data market which has registered 21.6 million subscription, translating to 74 percent Internet access in the country. Majority of these new media users are the youth who are actively engaged not only in accessing but also in creation and consumption of information in various formats, especially social media.
It’s this background that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) becomes a basis for enhancing access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, and quality education for Kenyan youth. MIL describes skills, and attitudes that are needed to value the functions of media and other information providers, including those on the Internet, and to access, evaluate and produce information and media content. In sum, MIL covers the competencies that are vital for today’s citizens to be effectively engaged in all aspects of governance and 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. This activity to pilot capacity building for youth organizations on MIL is complementary to the entry level Massively Open Online Course on MIL (MIL MOOC) launched by UNESCO and partners, with the hope to connect youth organizations all over the world to apply MIL to their operations and promote MIL globally. This is intended to contribute to enhancing intercultural dialogue, peace, mutual understanding, promote human rights (including online), freedom of expression, and counter hate, radicalization and violent extremism etc.
Problem Statement/Project Rationale
From the statistics above, it is true that in one way or another, young people in Kenya consume media and information on a daily basis, with the world renowned Kenyans on Twitter (#KOT) as the most trending as they discuss various topical issues in the country and indeed around the world. There hardly exists, however, any formal or informal programmes in the country to guide the media users understand the impact of media and information on their lives the way media and information literacy seeks to do.
Most of the youth, based on their own experience, are the ones who can speak more convincingly and persuasively about how their rights are being fulfilled or not, communicate these to the other young people and adults, and propose and demand solutions.
Media and Information Literacy: Policy and Strategy Guidelines, UNESCO, Paris, 2013
From the foregoing, it’s clear that the Kenyan youth are firmly at the epicenter of the melting pot of information explosion as the country takes its place in the knowledge society. Given the significant role of mass media in young people’s lives, the Centre for Media and Information Literacy in Kenya (CMIL-K) has taken the lead towards this critical MIL undertaking in the country.
The main objective of the project is to empower Kenyan citizens, particularly the youth, by enhancing their media and information literacy competencies through capacity building for membership-based youth led organisations.
- To conduct MIL capacity building to 30 young persons (15 men and 15 women) from diverse youth groups in tandem with UNESCO guidelines;
- To assess the current levels of youth/citizen involvement and capacity of media and information literacy initiatives in Kenya, identify gaps and the best practices;
- To develop guidelines and action-plans for integration of MIL in the youth organizations’ mandates and activities.
Aim of the project:
- This project will focus on giving Kenyan youth and their organisations a set of critical media literacy skills – i.e. comprehension, analysis, evaluation and production.
- Help youth appreciate information and media messages from various sources
- Use media and information to their own advantage and bring about the required change in their environment
- Give voice to youth and their organisations
- Enrich their perspectives
- Promote their rights and enhance their activities in different areas of youth engagement: (democracy, environment, religion, sports, education, literacy, gender, human rights, inter-cultural dialogue, etc.).
- The project entails holding a two-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya for two (2) representatives – with an eye on gender balance – of fifteen (15) membership-based youth-led organisations. There will be an emphasis on the participation of the leadership of each organisation.
- Two participants are expected to come from five (5) youth-led organisations in Nairobi while two each will come from ten (10) youth-led organisations in the other geo-political zones of Kenya.
- The workshop will encourage these youth leaders to become critical, thoughtful, informed, engaged and empowered citizens.
- It will provide a space for informal learning, innovation and creativity; stimulate networking, debate and discussion; bridge the gap between the media, information and young people; offer an arena for experiencing diversity and intercultural dialogue; and enhance the ability of participants and their organisations to participate in the opinion-making and decision-making processes in their community by understanding the power of information and the media.
By the end of the workshop:
- Approximately 30 youth leaders with equal percentages of male and female are trained with leadership, social communication and MIL abilities needed to promote and defend their rights and enhance active participation in society, thus increasing community awareness, respect and commitment to youth issues.
- Youth and their organisations will be able to develop strategies to apply MIL in their projects and daily activities to promote their work in different fields and contribute to national development.
- Involve youth and their organisations from local communities in exchanging experiences and promoting advocacy and social mobilization.
- Train youth and their organisations in MIL skills so that they can also train members of their organisations and other youth.
Long term goal:
The long term goal of the project is to work towards the inclusion of MIL in the design and implementation of youth activities and programmes across the country as a way of institutionalizing the understanding and appreciation of the impact of media and information on youth as well as promoting youth voices and programmes.
CMIL-Kenya will undertake this project within the framework of UNESCO’s thematic action.
YOUTH GROUPS COMMITMENTS
After the MIL Capacity building workshop in October 2016, all participating youth leaders and their respective organizations will be required to commit, independently, to the following:
- Develop basic MIL action plans in partnership with CMIL-K to implement tailored guidelines for integration of media and information literacy into their daily operations;
- All youth who are members of the participating youth organisations will pursue and complete the UNESCO Massively Open Online Course in MIL once this is in offer;
- Youth leaders who participate in the workshop will commit to participate in the rolling-out of MIL-CLICKS social media strategy;
- Participating youth leaders will engage in the Youth Committee and related actions of the Global Alliance for Partnerships on MIL-as registered members;
- Participating youth leaders will partake in follow-up monitoring activities to assess how they are progressing with use of guidelines and implementation of action plans to implement MIL in their operations, policy and practices.
(For more information, please visit our website, www.medialiteracy-kenya.info and register).