UNESCO experts highlight Media and Information Literacy as a key competence for the 21st century

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UNESCO experts' meeting previous to the World Summit of Information Societies considers Media and Information Literacy (MIL) as the focal point of the required competences needed to face the 21st century.

Thus, they have informed participants of the first meeting previous to the World Summit of Information Societies that is taking place from Monday, February 25 on at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Experts have pointed out the essential role these competences play in education, in lifelong learning, in democracy and in human rights. In this same way, researcher Alice Lee from University of Hong Kong has spoken up for them.

By consensus experts demand a MIL concept that openly acknowledges socio-cultural diversity as a universal need.

In the meeting, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, Secretary General of Mentor Association and Director of Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación, of Autonomous University of Barcelona, has argued that there are many possible MIL, depending on the context and on the culture that is dealt with. Therefore, he has stated "we cannot say there is only one way to MIL; there are many options and probably, some of them will mirror power struggles, financial difficulties and any other kind of tensions".

Argentinian researcher Roxana Morduchowicz has also declared herself in favor of a relationship between MIL and demands for democratization and for greater freedom in many countries of the world, particularly in Latin America, in the Arab States or in Asia.

A critical view of the media competences of young people has also been demanded. The so called "NetGeneration" can set an example for adults as far as technological skills and media development is concerned. However, Samy Tayie, Director of Mentor and Professor of Cairo University, has underlined that "young people also need to be oriented and protected by adults in this virtual world"

This opinion has been shared by a group of American scholars who maintains that MIL should strengthen young people world understanding. In many occasions younger generations may have difficulties to perceive the coherence of so much available fragmented and scattered information.

Thousands of experts on Information Societies from all around the world have gathered at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

These days the subgroup in charge of MIL will continue to work and discuss about the possibility of creating MIL indicators, a field of study in which UNESCO has been working for years.