In the evolving knowledge societies, we are facing a paradoxical situation of paucity in plenty as majority of the information seekers are not able to access and use requisite, reliable, accurate information in an effective and timely manner. With the emergence of the Internet, information seekers are overloaded and overwhelmed with information deluge. Everywhere, people are yearning to freely express themselves and actively participate in communication processes. Media and Information Literacy (MIL) provides citizens with critical competencies to survive and thrive in the 21st century knowledge economies. Therefore, UNESCO has launched a major initiative of Global Alliance for Partnership on Media & Information Literacy (GAPMIL) following the paradigm created by the World Summits for Information Societies (WSIS). Now, it is in the process of expanding GAPMIL to the regional and national level. Immediately, UNESCO plans to establish a regional committee for Asia-Pacific Chapter of GAPMIL. At the same time, UNESCO wants MIL policies and strategies, as well as, locally suitable MIL curriculum in place at the national level. In this context, a consultation meeting has been planned by UNESCO via MILUNI at India International Centre, New Delhi from 11-13 November 2014, to gather critical inputs to develop a position paper for a national MIL policy for India. Enhancing MIL as a tool for an open and inclusive development fosters free, independent and pluralistic media and universal access to information and knowledge for good governance and peoples’ participation. MIL initiative is part of the larger frame of the UNESCO-UNAOC MILID UNITWIN Network and the UNESCO led GAPMIL. Punjabi University, Patiala has been actively associated with the IFLA and UNESCO sponsored information literacy initiatives since the year 2004. For over one year, FORMEDIA has also been engaged in a global online process of discussions to formulate a framework and action plan for GAPMIL.
Discussions in India have led to a path-breaking co-operation between Punjabi University, Patiala, Uttarakhand Open University, and Foundation for Responsible Media (FORMEDIA). Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is also going to join the Media and Information Literacy University Network of India (MILUNI) in the near future. This is the core start-up group of the MILUNI. Co-operating members will work together, and in their individual capacities as well, through various fora to promote MIL. Further to building global networks, UNESCO has initiated national consultations to build awareness of, and access to Media and Information Literacy (MIL) with the objective of enabling a global environment for national MIL policies. MILUNI is now preparing for a UNESCO-led Indian National MIL Consultation from 11-13 November 2014 at India International Centre, New Delhi. Key stakeholders are expected to participate in the deliberations. The aim is to develop a Position Paper with recommendations for a national MIL policy, and core contents for MIL curricula.
MIL in India: Context and background
- India with more than 1.2 billion people is the second most populous country in the world.
- As per 2011 census, the literacy rate of the country is 74.04%, which means that one in every four persons is illiterate in India.
- About 0.3 billion people, largest number of illiterates in the world, are in India.
- When we address an issue such as MIL, are we considering the literate population, or that also include the illiterate ones, many of whom may have access to mobile phones (with Internet facility) and broadcast media such as Radio and TV?
- Another related issue is language of information and media content. Though the use of English is widespread, but there are 22 officially recognized languages in the country and majority of the population use one or more of these 22 languages. Besides these 22 languages, there are many other spoken and written languages used in the country.
- Many to most Web-based resources and services offered in the country are in English language.
- In spite of widespread diffusion of mobile phones across income levels, there is a growing digital divide in India.
Rationale for MIL competencies
- Media and Information Literacy (MIL) not only empowers people with competencies required to enjoy the fruits of democracy, but also makes democracy more vibrant, and ensures sharing of opinions, ideas through information and communication to create informed citizenry.
- In a globalised world, flow of information and power of media in developing countries like India needs to be critically examined by empowering people to have understanding of media and to raises questions on how reporting’s are being carried out and information are disseminated for image building.
- In the times of market economy under corporate world, information carries perspective of other stakeholder as well. Techniques are used to create emotional effects. MIL allows a person to decipher the meaning of information being supplied, and to understand how a particular medium is created, and how that medium affects and gets affected by the creator and consumer. Therefore only the media literate persons can understand the market dynamics and determine how to act rather being acted upon.
- The MIL envisages build competencies in a complex information–rich environment to understand the cultural diversity and diverse cultural needs of India.
- The MIL widens the objectives and purposes of education. It transcends the notion of ‘education for employability’, to ‘learning to learn’ and social transformation. Such objectives of education can be achieved only by having a teacher with MIL capabilities. It will eventually have multiplier effects.
- MIL allows sharing of ideas and provides opportunities to create common platform for Open Educational Resources, and as such it ensures social inclusion as well. Thus all media and information literate persons may access, analyze, evaluate, use and communicate information in a variety of formats and contribute in their public and social life. Hence MIL may be seen as an important tool for continuing and lifelong learning for developing good citizenry.
- MIL offers opportunities to enhance competency, especially of those who never got a chance to undergo any formal training, and are working at regional and local level (i.e. rural India), thus have not been able to bring to light the crucial social, cultural or development issues of the concerned area.
- In Indian context, MIL is envisioned to plays an active role in enhancing competencies in local self governance. The spirit of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment and article 243 (A-Z) of Constitution of India may be made functional and effective at village level governance through MIL. For instance, the perceived skill gaps in effective village administration (PRIs), such as knowledge of constitutional provisions and rights, development policies & schemes, social auditing, and fiscal management by the village panchayats, and intervention of each stakeholder can be ensured such literacy.
- MIL is also seen as an effective tool to enhance scientific aptitude and ecological consciousness among masses to move towards achieving a holistic and ecologically sustainable society especial in areas (especially the 12 Himalayan states) with specificities such as marginality, fragility and inaccessibility.
Focus of the National MIL Consultation
- Initiating discussion on suggesting national educational regulatory bodies to recommend MIL curriculum to be incorporated in Indian higher education system (with the support from NCERT, CBSE has already introduced a Media Literacy component in higher secondary school level; UGC and AICTE may follow suit accordingly).
- Framing guidelines to Open Universities and Distance Education Institutes to offer short term modules on MIL in an OER format for general audience (in the line of UK OU's model of short term learning modules).
- Assessing and recommending curriculum framework for Information Sciences and Communication disciplines in Indian Universities and Colleges to offer a course on MIL as part of their choice based credit system in order to enlighten various students sections of respective institutions.
- Initiating discussion on suggesting National Council for Teacher Education to include curriculum component in teacher education training.
- Formulate recommendations to MHRD and state boards to open MIL Clubs in various schools to inculcate MIL activities within school curriculum framework.
- Framing structure for training-the-trainers workshops on MIL pedagogical methods in Indian context.
- Assess and recommendation may be made to Krishi Vighyan Kendra's extension communication/Science Communication Forums to expand its scope to include MIL structure in their outreach.
- Initiating discussion on national level research and resources center, based on creative commons through offline and online mode.
Rationale for developing MIL Policy / Strategy for India:
- In the digital age, developing MIL policy is most relevant.
- Without a MIL policy and strategy, disparities between info-rich and info-poor would increase.
- To develop Indian society into knowledge-based society, and for it to compete with workforce at the global level, there is a need to develop a national MIL policy and strategy.
- MIL policy is also needed to contain cultural hegemony by providing counterbalance to dominant cultures. India is a diverse and pluralistic society, therefore MIL policy/strategy is needed the most.
- MIL as a composite concept to be used for post-literacy education of the literates including neo-literates.
- Benefits of MIL policy/strategy are: active and democratic participation; enabling pluralism and diversity, dialogue and tolerance; and awareness of ethical responsibilities for global citizenship. Benefits for governments would be across economics, health, governance, and education sectors. This would result in better media and information providers.
Tasks for National Consultation
- Identifying relevant government ministries and departments: Developing a policy for MIL should be the central concern of the government. MIL policy is of concern to several ministries and their departments. Concern of Ministry of HRD is central, though other concerned ministries such as Information and Broadcasting, Culture, Rural Development, Youth development, Women and Child development, and others might add inputs to the proposed policy.
- Identifying MIL indicators
- Identifying existing policies that may have components related to MIL policy / strategy
- Identifying existing programmes that could be integrated into a wider MIL programmes.
- Identifying stakeholders from various sectors that can contribute towards policy / strategy development.
Other points for consideration
- MIL policy / strategy should be so designed that for neo-literates there should be a continuum for them from being literates to becoming media and information literates.
- Linkages with National Literacy Mission, Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyan and other missions such as National Mission on Libraries need be developed.
- MIL programmes be integrated within existing programmes and new MIL progarmmes for training-the-trainers need be started at various levels.
- Learning from other countries/regions where such policies are developed and implemented.
- Developing MIL curriculum suited for Indian needs.
- Developing MIL assessment framework suited for India based on Unesco MIL assessment Framework
Useful Web Links:
MIL as a Composite Concept
MIL and User Generated Content
Global Alliance for Partnerships for Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL)
GAPMIL Framework and Plan of Action
UNESCO Global MIL Assessment Framework
Media and Information Literacy: Policy and Strategy Guidelines
Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers
UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan
IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations
National policy on education 1986 PROGRAMME OF ACTION• 1992
Report to the People on Education 2011-12
EDUCATIONAL STATISTICS AT A GLANCE 2013
National Mission on Libraries
Guidelines on National Mission on Libraries - Upgradation of libraries
providing services to the public
India- Journey from Knowledge economy to inclusive information society
Right to Education
Right To Education - RTE Rules/Guidelines/Notifications
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
National Literacy Mission Authority
Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), Department of School Education & Literacy
Right to Information
National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions