UNESCO supports advocacy efforts towards adoption of a Media and Information Literacy national strategy in Montenegro

“We are thrilled with our collaboration with UNESCO and the possibility to develop a policy document on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) that unites the perspectives of different stakeholders on the topic. We hope that it will serve as a starting point for the adoption of a national MIL strategy in Montenegro,” said Olivera Nikolic, Executive Director of Montenegro Media Institute (MMI). “For this country to take a more comprehensive approach to address the need for MIL would be the number one instrument against disinformation, conspiracy theories, hate speech, and the harmful effects that can result from the lack of critical thinking.”

Supported by the UNESCO EU-funded project “Building Trust in Media South East Europe and Turkey – Phase 2,” the Montenegro Media Institute has developed a policy document on MIL and enhanced its advocacy efforts towards relevant authorities of the country calling for the adoption of a national strategy on MIL. The project contributes to a continued dialogue and consultations with key stakeholders on MIL, in particular the members of the National MIL Coalition – a group gathering representatives of CSOs, of the Montenegrin Bureau of Education, the Union of School Principals of Montenegro, the Ministry of Culture, the Agency for Electronic Media, MIL experts and university professors.

The policy paper outlines the recommendations for adopting a national MIL strategy that range from determining different pathways for introducing MIL at all levels of formal education to mapping out local conditions, problems, and benefits of MIL, particularly in reference to regional inequalities when it comes to access to media education. Developed by a long-time expert on MIL, Ms. Božena Jelušić, it has undergone peer review by the National MIL Coalition. “We are calling the relevant ministries to take the necessary steps to adopt a National MIL Strategy and Action Plan based on a cross-sector approach,” explained Olivera Nikolic. “Anything else would fail to cover the needs of media content consumers, as oppose to producers,” she added.

The MMI held two public debates and two round tables on MIL, gathering 189 stakeholders in total. Two consultation meetings were held with the members of the National MIL Coalition with 24 participants. Along with the MIL experts, teachers and students from several high schools across the country were included in the discussions.

The number of students choosing MIL as an elective course in Montenegro has substantially increased compared to previous years showing the growing interest among youth to develop their MIL skills. However, in Montenegro, MIL is just an elective course offered in 30% of high schools, while it is completely absent from primary education.

The second phase of the project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey” was launched in November 2019 by UNESCO and the European Union, DG NEAR. To address the decline in the civil society’s trust in media in the region, the three-year project aims to, among others, pilot Media and Information Literacy in formal and informal education.