All candidates are winners: UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Alliance Awards 2020

The Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2020 edition took place online this year in order to adapt to the context of the health crisis facing the world today. This was the first fully online celebration in ten years.

The paradox of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disinfodemics is that they shun a light on large numbers of media and information literacy initiatives that existed long before the crisis.

Individuals, organizations, and networks have invested decades in helping people to self-empower with media and information literacy (MIL), activating their critical compasses in the information, communication and digital content ecologies.

Acknowledging the sweat, sacrifices, and achievements of these stakeholders helps to:

Highlight and share good practices in promoting MIL so they people can benefit more from digital transformation while resisting disinformation;
Motivate other actors of MIL related initiatives to continue to push for change;
Draw international attention to the positive impact of MIL actions and thus kindle sustainability.
Given the growing demand for MIL and related players, the selection process was difficult. The Awards Committee selected 6 winners:

First place
Michelle Ciulla-Lipkin represents the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), a network in the United States of America that design and implements media literacy education in schools, cities, and entertainment environments. “NAMLE” and its members are currently the primary drivers of media literacy education in the United States. The organization also engages in important international cooperation to promote MIL. NAMLE imparts media literacy best practices to students, educators, parents, organizations, schools, universities and the general public through programming, conferences, networking, and collaboration. Michelle Ciulla-Lipkin tirelessly represents and promotes media literacy. Through MIL related actions, Michelle and NAMLE are putting dents in human rights violations, poverty reduction, cultural diversity, and the environment.
Willice Onyango represents the Youth Cafe Limited in Kenya that aims to steer the organization to equip over 5 million young men and women in Africa with key media literacy and information literacy skills: critical thinking, fact-checking, online safety, social media verification, and quality assessment of online information and their sources. They hope to become a reference point in media literacy for African youth. The Youth Cafe is a youth-led and youth-serving organization that, among other goals, works towards enabling the youthful population in Africa to take charge of Africa’s media growth. The organization has published cutting-edge research and advocacy on media and information literacy among African youth, reaching over one million young people in the process.

Second place
Silvia Bacher represents the “Las Otras Voces, Comunicacion para la Democracia (LOV)” in Argentina. the organization has actively worked to set MIL’s political and educational agenda, created programs and established alliances in Argentina, Latin America and Spain. The activities implemented are multi-layered and dynamic. LOV works from three perspectives: political, academic, and territorial.
Sam Wineburg, working with Stanford University in the United States of America, supports media literacy “lateral reading” skills and tools to schools. Professor Sam Wineburg and Stanford’s History Education Center provide the Stanford curriculum to millions of students in the United States. Their Civic and History lessons help communicate media literacy best practices to students, educators, parents, organizations, schools, universities, and the general public.

Third place
The Brazilian professor Carlos Lima has created an educational programme within the Imprensa Jovem (Youth Press) organization that illustrates MIL application in basic education curriculum. The programme allows teachers and students to acquire competencies of MIL through participatory processes in curricular and extra-curricular activities. It approaches different media languages, critical reading of media, Open Educational Resources, ICTs and SDGs – including within the school news agencies.
Syed Ommer Amer, founded the “Daastan” institution in Pakistan, which influences media and information literacy in general. The organization runs monthly thematic campaigns that use storytelling as a tool to promote intercultural dialogue, peacemaking through literature as well as the role of and safety of journalists in Pakistan. Recently, Daastan launched the #WeToo short story competition in collaboration with Stories to Action – a global platform working to disseminate verified information for sexual and reproductive health rights in the context of the current health crisis.

Announcement of the UNESCO MIL Alliance Awards happened alongside the strategic refinement and relaunch of this alliance and adoption of Seoul Declaration on Media and Information Literacy for Everyone and by Everyone.

“Recognition such as these motivates, stimulates, and appropriates the sharing of MIL experiences and knowledge.” stated ”Alton Grizzle, the UNESCO Programme Specialist who coordinates UNESCO global actions on MIL. He continued: “When the hard work and innovation of actors in the MIL is celebrated by the community, this creates new MIL champions”

The UNESCO MIL Alliance will organize an award ceremony on the UNESCO MIL CLICKS platform. We invite you to visit and follow the MIL CLICKS social media pages to receive updates. For more detailed information about the 2020 winners and all the candidates, please visit the official website of the UNESCO MIL Alliance here.


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