By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: The UNESCO Media Information Literacy Week Webinar was organized yesterday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States. Participants included Dr Osama Heikal, Egyptian State Minister for Media and Information, and Dr Basim Tweissi, Jordanian Minister of Culture, among others.
Speakers included Dr Ghaith Fariz, Director, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States, Dr Samy Tayie, Chair, Arab Chapter of the UNESCO Alliance of Partners in Media and Information Literacy, Dr May Chidiac, UNESCO WPF Laureate and former Lebanese Minister for Administrative Reform, and others from various countries in the Arab world.
“At UNESCO, we have a belief that we can achieve a lot if we work together. Media education is a cornerstone of several actions being taken by UNESCO, because media plays a vital role in establishing knowledgeable societies that we all aspire for, especially in the 21st century,” Fariz said. “Access to credible information and creativity are among the most important factors that may lead to an informed society and decision makers. We all pledge that no one will be left behind,” he said.
Fariz spoke about the need to provide the necessary infrastructure in order to support comprehensive and just participation through digital networks and access to infrastructure, in addition to fast and credible communication at an affordable price. He mentioned the need to guarantee safe and secure browsing by providing users with technical skills and abilities, in addition to cultural and critical awareness, especially to youth below 30 years of age, who constitute up to 60 percent of Arab populations.
“We need to provide rich and interactive content that is accessible to users. Having credible and positive content is a necessity to combat ignorance and enlighten our people,” Fariz said. “We expect an exchange of views and to raise awareness on this topic in order to sustain and enhance our capacity. We will develop an action plan for all stakeholders so we can contribute and actively achieve our goals of not leaving anyone behind,” he added. The two ministers from Egypt and Jordan also spoke during the opening of the Media Literacy Week.