MEDIA Literacy worldwide
The importance of media literacy has been widely recognised but progress varies according to the country or region and suffers from lack of funding and recognition.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada are currently the most advanced countries in the world; media education forms part of school curricula, either as a separate subject or as part of the mother tongue language curriculum. In these countries, there are also well established partnerships with the media industry and regulators; many associations publish journals and newsletters and some maintain extensive websites.
In the US, which has not ratified the United Nation Convention on the rights of the child, a wide array of governmental and non-governmental organisations has broached the topic of media literacy education with some success. In Latin America, the most interesting and productive work is often happening in the context of local youth or community based projects.
Media Literacy in some Western Balkan countries
CROATIA – focus on media culture
Media literacy is not part of the school curriculum in Croatia. According to information from the "Education and Teacher Training Agency", a subject called "media culture" is taught in Croatian primary schools as part of Croatian language, though not as a separate subject.
It focuses on: training students for media communication; and understanding and evaluating theatre plays, films, radio and television shows. This subject cannot be considered as "media literacy" since it concentrates mainly on the arts and not on a critical approach to media messages.
The national education programme leaves room for the possibility of introducing media culture, drama culture and film culture as new subjects in primary and secondary schools.
Diverse state and public organisations offer training for teachers and students in the area of media culture, audiovisual works and theatre.
- Education and Teacher Training Agency
- Croatian Audiovisual Centre
- Croatian Film Association
- Croatian Centre for Drama Education
BOSNIA – focus on children's internet safety
The subject "media culture" is taught only at the Pedagogical Academy in Sarajevo, where it is an elective subject. As in Croatia, media culture focuses on understanding of film and theatre
Media literacy is not present at all in current academic research in Bosnia, except for one published collection of papers that deals with this subject, entitled "Media Literacy and Civil Society". However, this publication does not include research on the levels of media literacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ministries of Culture for both entities (Republic of Srpska and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) have no activities related to this area.
The most active institution in the field of media literacy is the "Communications Regulatory Agency Bosnia and Herzegovina". In cooperation with UNICEF and Save the Children Norway, this agency organised a conference on “Protection of Children from Inappropriate Television Content” in November 2009 and published a short Study on the Influence of Television on Children.
It also provides statistics related to the telecommunication sector, including internet penetration rate, and indicators about telecommunications such as the number of mobile phone users etc.
SERBIA – NGO activities
As the result of joint action undertaken by the Serbian Ministry of Education and Telekom Serbia, high speed internet was due to become available in all schools in Serbia by September 1, 2011. Three thousand schools were to get brand new classrooms equipped with computers. An action for the internet safety for children, Click Safely, has been implemented.
Some academic research about media literacy has been carried out, as well as an attempt to start a public debate about the subject.
As a subject, media literacy is present at the Singidunum University.
However, most activities in the area of media literacy are being conducted by NGOs.
MONTENEGRO – media literacy as an elective subject in high schools
Secondary school students in Montenegro have an option to choose media literacy as a subject in second or in third grade. According to the Montenegrin Institute for Education, in order for the subject to transform from elective to obligatory, education reforms are needed. For this reason it is unlikely that media literacy will become an obligatory subject in the near future. However, the law does allow for the possibility of media literacy becoming an elective subject in primary schools as well.
The main purposes of media literacy education in Montenegro are:
- to make it possible for students to develop their own relationship with media and media texts;
- to develop the abilities for critical reception of media materials;
- to develop the ability to produce media texts having in mind their aesthetic, technological and organisational-production aspects;
- to encourage meaningful and productive use of media literacy elements with other subject, especially with literacy, sociology, psychology, philosophy and history.
Where there are fewer resources, or where there is little interest from policy makers, the development of media literacy initiatives relies almost exclusively on partnerships (for example, production-based projects in China and Hong Kong). In many African countries, these partnerships are necessary just to ensure the provision of basic resources. In addition, there is a lack of basic equipment and resources. In many developing countries educators are still largely preoccupied with developing basic print literacy; media literacy is only just beginning to register as a concern.
In countries like Hong Kong and China, the rapid spread of ICT in education and the massive injection of funding in this area have offered considerable potential for developing creative work with media in schools. In Singapore, specific emphasis has been placed on promoting internet safety for youth.
Finally, in Japan, over the past few years, interest in media literacy has increased dramatically in the education sector and in the administration, in the media and among the general public. Particularly interesting and effective are the voluntary grassroots activities of the Forum for Citizens Television and Media (FCT).