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JMI media, information literacy campaign continues amid virus crisis, say project stakeholders

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Sep 23,2020 - Last updated at Sep 23,2020

AMMAN — The coronavirus crisis has interrupted many businesses and projects in the Kingdom, but the national Media and Information Literacy (MIL) project kept ongoing in spite of the challenges, according to project’s stakeholders.

The Jordan Media Institute (JMI) is a government partner in implementing the project, covering various areas to spread media literacy; most recently working with students by teaching them virtually, media and communication specialist at the JMI Bayan Tal told The Jordan Times on Tuesday over the phone.

“The project continued, we have not stopped anything, but only adapted to the conditions that coronavirus imposed on us; operating directly with students when we are allowed to do so, or going online when not,” Tal said.

The JMI has throughout this year held intensive training on MIL and story production, training teachers who in turn train a number of students, with the end goal of having students produce their own news reports to be broadcast on TV.

The institute has been following with students, individually, and the videos will still be produced on mobile at home, the media expert said, noting that in regards to teachers, they are being trained between 12 to 20 trainees at a time, so as not to violate the health measures amid the pandemic.

“We are also developing online videos, which will be extremely useful for all target groups. They will be short, between three to five minutes, explaining every skill, concept and competency related to media literacy,” Tal said. 

She noted that the videos will be posted online as they are relevant to issues facing youth and adults in their daily lives.

The JMI is also working with civil society organisations, helping them to communicate and transfer skills to the groups they work with; including associations, such as the Jordan Press Association, the Jordan Bar Association, and human rights and women organisations, in addition to youth, drama and art, according to Tal.

“This will be done all the way from the north to the south all over the Kingdom with a group of civil society organisations, for whom we will also develop a manual they can use for training and in their projects, in addition to videos to help explain the concepts, which they can use to train in turn the target audience,” Tal said.

The manual and videos help identify and counter hate speech, promote human rights, address bullying, promote freedom of expression, support arts and seek to build an ethical society, among other subjects, according to Tal.

The Ministry of Culture on Monday launched, a platform dedicated to media literacy. “I am glad the government continues to support this and to remain committed to national media literacy programmes,” Tal said.

“The fact that it adopted it as a priority issue, I am hoping that this continues to the upcoming governments, so that any government that takes over remains committed to media literacy as a national priority, which is much needed for all sectors and age groups, and we need to acknowledge and be proud of being the first Arab country to adopt this at a national scale, including it in schools and universities,” Tal added.

Aside from school students, Tal said that work is ongoing with universities, noting that there already is a textbook for media literacy, which three universities have listed in their curricula as an optional course.

Norway’s Ambassador to Jordan Tone Allers said that social media has changed the media landscape in all countries, which requires developing critical thinking skills for consumers of news and journalists.

“Jordan is focusing on media literacy and also integrating into the education process. Of course, developing critical thinking is a part of the educational process and system, so this is not only support for media literacy but also linked to our support to the Kingdom’s education sector,” Allers said.

As the Norwegian embassy is a donor and partner, the ambassador highlighted the embassy’s flexibility in dealing with the delays caused by the pandemic, especially shifting to digital learning and materials as the project adjusted.

“The crisis was a challenge but also a window of opportunity in regards to dealing with digital tools and information available online,” she added.

In light of the hike in rumours during the crisis, Allers said they could lead to negative health implications.

The spread of rumours during the virus crisis led people to traditional and credible media sources, the envoy said, highlighting the importance of “fact-check platforms” and their role in combating rumours and misinformation.

Allers also highlighted the importance of the Jordanian government’s role in holding press conferences to create understanding among the people, noting that in Norway, there were also press conferences for children, which officials delivered in a simplified and clear language to reassure them.

“We have had long-term cooperation with the JMI and other Jordanian media organisations over several years. Jordanian journalism students visited Norway and the Norwegian media institutions also visited Jordan and participated in training and workshops,” Allers told The Jordan Times over the phone.

“Therefore, this is building up on that relationship, which has had a focus on media literacy as well as freedom of expression and development of quality journalism,” she added.

Trainer and Project Manager at Deutsche Welle (DW) Muna Alnaggar said that the coronavirus only slowed down some aspects of the project as part of the material was turned digital.

“This was one of the benefits from the experience in the past few months, as we had not considered before turning the material into digital form, but the pandemic pushed us to do so with support from the JMI and the concerned ministries in the Kingdom” Alnaggar said in a Zoom meeting on Tuesday.

The next step in the national project is to train more teachers until the end of the year while also working on the school curricula, the DW trainer said, noting that two years are left to complete the entire project.

“Upon completion, we want to ensure that all the experience and knowledge will remain in Jordan, as information will remain with the JMI and the concerned entities, they will remain sustainable,” she concluded. 


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