Media and Information Literacy

The University of Jos is one of the five tertiary institutions of learning that is in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the University Twinning and Networking Programme (UNITWIN) for the promotion of Media and Information Literacy in Nigeria. The focal person and coordinator is Dr. Sarah Lwahas of the Department of Mass Communication, UniJos.

MIL UniJos Focal Person, Dr. Sarah Lwahas

According to UNESCO, the empowerment of people through Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is an important prerequisite for fostering equitable access to information and knowledge and promoting free, independent and pluralistic media and information systems.

Media and Information Literacy recognizes the primary role of information and media in our everyday lives. It lies at the core of freedom of expression and information - since it empowers citizens to understand the functions of media and other information providers, to critically evaluate their content, and to make informed decisions as users and producer of information and media content.

Information Literacy and Media Literacy are traditionally seen as separate and distinct fields. UNESCO’s strategy brings together these two fields as a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude) necessary for life and work today. MIL considers all forms of media and other information providers such as libraries, archive, museums and Internet irrespective of technologies used.

A particular focus will be on training teachers to sensitize them to the importance of MIL in the education process, enable them to integrate MIL into their teaching and provide them with appropriate pedagogical methods, curricula and resources.

UNESCO’s mission is to engender media and information literate societies through a comprehensive strategy which include preparation of model Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers, the facilitation of international cooperation, development of Guidelines for preparing national MIL Policies and Strategies, articulation of a Global Framework on MIL Indicators, setting up a MIL University Network, articulation of and establishment of an International Clearinghouse on MIL in cooperation with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and provision of Guidelines for Broadcasters on Promoting User-Generated Content and MIL.

In this regard, June 2017 witnessed a UNIJOS, UNESCO and UNITWIN workshop themed Tackling Religious Extremism and Counter-Terrorism in Nigeria through Media and Information Literacy (MIL) at the Richard Akinjide Law Auditorium, Naraguta Campus, University of Jos.

A cross Section of Participants at the MIL Workshop in UniJos

The first speaker and National Coordinator of MIL, Dr. Suraj Olusunfi Adekunle from the Lagos State University spoke on the topic: The Relevance of Media Information Literacy in Today’s School Curriculum emphasized on the need for schools and higher institutions to include MIL in their curriculum as this will go a long way to help to face out terrorism.

The second speaker and former Dean of Arts, Prof. Usman H.D. Danfulani of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, stated that culture and languages are vital tools to counter terrorism as he spoke on the topic: Respecting Culture and Religious Sensibilities of People.

The third speaker and Librarian of the University of Jos, Dr. Stephen Akintunde, spoke on the need to get people engaged most especially the youths and women as this will go a long way to stop the rise and activities of fundamentalist groups. He called on all to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) platforms to improve themselves and to gain wealth and knowledge rather than using it for terrorist or fraudulent activities.

The United Nations Communication and Information Sector Officer, Mrs. Yakchat Nuhu, said that MIL is geared towards the eradication of the activities of extremist and fundamentalist groups in the world.