UNESCO & Media Education

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Media Education


UNESCO Website:  http://www.unesco.org

A.  UNESCO Documents:

1.  UNESCO’s Definition of Media Education (1977)

(1) Online Access: Online access to full text article is unavailable.

(2)  Content Description:

“Media education is the study, learning and teaching of, and about, the modern media of communication and expression as a specific and autonomous area of knowledge within education theory and practice, distinct from their use as aids for the teaching and learning of other areas of knowledge, such as mathematics, science and geography.” (International Film and Television Council- IFTC, 1977).

2. The Grünwald Declaration on Media Education. January 1982. Grünwald, Germany.

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(2) Content Description:

The Grünwald Declaration on Media Education was produced from the UNESCO “International Symposium on Education of the Public in the Use of Mass Media: Problems, Trends and Prospects.”

The Grünwald Declaration on Media Education:

Strongly supports the development of media education around the world, in light of mass media’s huge impact and rapid development.

Advocates that media education programs develop critical awareness of media, by developing:

#  analysis of media products, the use of media as a means of creative expression, and people’s effective participation in media channels.

#  training courses for teachers, and facilitators of media education.

#  research and development (R & D) for media education. Such R and D can come from areas like psychology, sociology, communication science.

Advocates teachers (education orgs), parents (family), the media sector and “decision makers” e.g. state governments to support UNESCO’s efforts of advancing media education worldwide.

3.   Media Education: Advances, Obstacles, and New Trends since Grünwald: Towards a Scale Change? Proceedings, Synthesis and Recommandations. Commission nationale française pour l’UNESCO, Paris. 2007

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(2) Content Description:

The report was written out of the UNESCO-sponsored conference “Media Education: Advances, Obstacles, and New Trends since Grünwald: Towards a Scale Change?” inParis, 2007.

4.   Hobbs, Renee. Approaches to Instruction and Teacher Education in Media Literacy Research. Paper commissioned within the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012), 2007.

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This paper was presented at the UNESCO conference “Literacy Challenges in the Arab States Region: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches”, inDoha, 2007.

In this paper, R. Hobbs:

Defines media literacy as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms.”

Gives 3 common elements in concepts of media literacy: 

(a) A personal focus on accessing and using media and technology;

(b) The process of critically analyzing and evaluating the content, form and contexts of media messages and media systems and institutions;

(c) The ability to compose or create messages using digital, visual and electronic tools for purposes of self-expression, communication and advocacy.

Gives these instructional approaches to media literacy (Pdf p.3-5):

  • Close Analysis [of Media Material]
  • Reflection on Media Consumption Choices
  • Media Production

Gives these approaches to educate teachers on media literacy (Pdf p.5-7)

Among the effects of media literacy education in youth, R. Hobbs finds that media literacy education helps develop in youth (Pdf p.7-8):

  • Increased motivation and engagement:  in youth’s learning experiences and achievement.
  • Text comprehension and analysis skills:  “Digital communication tools can help inspire the literacy development of children and adolescents in both informal and formal settings.”
  • Citizenship skills:  Media literacy can “develop democracy, cultural participation and active citizenship.

B. UNESCO Publications: 

1. Masterman, L. (1983). Media education: Theoretical issues and practical possibilities. Prospects: Quarterly Review of Education, 13(2), 183-191.

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Writing at the time as a media education consultant for UNESCO and the Council of Europe, L. Masterman finds that the origins of media education in theU.K.(Pdf p.47):

“lay in a profound distrust of the media themselves.”

Are “middle class and deeply paternalistic […] Indeed it seemed to many people that the worse a particular media product was, the more popular it was likely to become, and the concept of discrimination was called into action from the outset as a weapon to protect the young from experiences which they actually found quite attractive, and, indeed, to protect civilized and civilizing cultural values.”

L. Masterman discusses media representation under these aspects:

“Who constructs media representations?”
“How do the media construct their representations?”
“Reading media representation”

L. Masterman advocates for media education to start and become entrenched as soon as possible:

“if the [teaching] profession is not to contribute further to what is already a dangerously wide gap between the priorities and concerns of most schools and the life-problems, situations and issues which confront students and adults in the real world.” (Pdf p.55)

2.  Halloran, James Dermot and Jones, Marcia. (1986). Learning about the media: Media education and communication research. Communication and Society, 16, 1-183.

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In their article, Halloran and Jones study:

Mass Communication Research (Pdf p.11- 53)

  • the past, present, and future development of mass communication research.
  • ties between mass media research and media education.

Media Education (Pdf p.54- 172)

Halloran and Jones give these approaches to media education: 

  • Inoculation approach
  • Critical Viewer approach
  • Community Media approach
  • Image and Consciousness approach.

Halloran and Jones respond to UNESCO’s Grünwald Declaration on Media Education (Jan. 1982), arguing that:

UNESCO’s stance on media education emphasizes too much the individual as a media audience member and consumer (p.172). Media education programs should also involve studying:

  • Relations between media and society e.g. the media in its socio-economic-political contexts.
  • Media concentration and its effects of political bias in the content of media output, as people should be aware that “media organizations are part of the legitimation of dominant interest groups” (Pdf p.178).

By developing the above areas of media education, Halloran and Jones believe this will improve people’s participation in media, helping them become media producers, and not just consumers.

3.  Frau-Meigs, Divina (Ed). Media education: A kit for teachers, students, parents and professionals. 2007.

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“The kit is partly a product of the “MENTORproject” (www.mediamentor.org) co-funded by UNESCO and European Commission and supported by CLEMI, CEDEFOP and Mizar Multimedia. […] this programme brought together scholars and practitioners of media education from theMediterraneanBasin and discussed basic training of teachers, modular curriculum, and national and international strategies for development of media education.” (Acknowledgments, Pdf p.4)

UNESCO’s Role in Media Education (early 1960s –2007):

“From the early 1960s onwards, UNESCO had not only identified media’s critical role in social improvement, but also outlined concrete policies, programmes, and strategies in engaging and utilizing various media toward development goals.

UNESCO is also sensitive to the idea of creating and sustaining spaces of dialogue. In an age where mediated forms of communication have become the primary means of delivering information and knowledge, what is, perhaps, needed is to extend dialogic forms of communication and conversation across cross-cultural boundaries. To this end, for the past several years, UNESCO has been involved in promoting freedom of expression and universal access to information and knowledge.” (Preface, Pdf p.9)

Proposal for a modular curriculum (Pdf p.12-21)

This part of the kit offers a media education curriculum prototype for the qualification of secondary school teachers.

Handbook for Teachers (Pdf p.22-47)

This part of the kit:

  • defines media education with reference to the kit’s “proposal for a modular curriculum”, and based on 4 key concepts:  production, languages, representations, publics.
  • “considers practical and pedagogical approaches to media teaching and learning.”

Handbook for Students (Pdf p.48-56)

This part of the kit “aims at encouraging students to question the media they use every day […] . It focuses on the analysis of four key-concepts: production, languages, representations, publics.”

4.  Frau-Meigs, D., and Torrent, J. (Eds.). (2009). Mapping media education policies in the world: Visions, programmes and challenges. New York ; Huelva: Alliance of Civilizations;Grupo Comunicar.

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(2) Content Description:

This publication is a collection of articles on media education policies in different countries. Articles in this publication are categorized under 3 subject headings:

1. Defining Media Education and its Stakes in a Crosscultural Perspective

“The first section examines the crucial points within media education: its definition and its core competences, as well as its implementation in a cross-cultural perspective, with development and human rights issues as major stakes.” (Pdf p.16)

2. Media Education and its Enabling Environment: Reforms beyond Capacity Building

“The second section focuses on capacity-building and enabling environments within the schools: it reviews and assesses state reforms, teacher training, curricular development and standard-setting practices with case studies from several regions of the world.” (Pdf p.16)

3. Media Education Actors outside the Educational Framework: Toward Civic Agency

“The third section considers media education actors outside the educational setting, analyzing the role of regulatory bodies, private sector and civil society, in their capacity to raise awareness among adults and youth alike and to promote civic agency and participation as well as North-South, South-South and East-West exchanges.” (Pdf p.16)

U.N.-related work on media education e.g. Alexandria Proclamation on Information
Literacy and Lifelong Learning (2005), Paris Agenda for Media Education (2007), UNESCO’s
Media Education Kit (2007), and UNESCO’s current initiative “Training the Trainer
on Media and Information Literacy” curricula:

“come[s] in the wake of a new international framework towards building «Knowledge Societies».” (Pdf p.15)

“There remains the important task of turning high principles into operational applications.” (Pdf p.15).

Institutionalizing Media Education into Public Policy:

“Policy-makers have thus a vested interest in finding the right scale of interaction for media education as it can be a means for digital dynamics rather than divides. They can do so by using different rungs of governance (local, regional, state, federal…) as well as by identifying sites and entities that have the legitimacy to call upon actors that generally don’t speak together to dialogue on a par (ministries of education, communication and culture, private companies and civil society associations, researchers and professionals, etc.).” (Pdf p.20).

Articles in this publication:

“go beyond the description of programmes and take into consideration issues, challenges and outcomes, pointing towards solution oriented recommendations and open initiatives.” (Pdf p.15).

Write on “three transversal themes: the relation between the local and the global in media education strategies and policies, the public interest value of media education, and the benefits of multi-partnership involvements and implementations.” (Pdf p.16).

5. Wilson, C., Grizzle, A., Tuazon R., Akyempong, K., and Cheung, C. K. (Eds.). (2011). Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers. Paris: UNESCO.

(1) Online access to full text article: 

It is available on the UNESCO website.

(2) Content Description:

“This Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers is an important resource for Member States in their continuing work towards achieving the objectives of the Grünwald Declaration (1982), the Alexandria Declaration (2005) and the UNESCO Paris Agenda (2007) – all related to MIL. It is pioneering for two reasons. First, it is forward looking, drawing on present trends toward the convergence of radio, television, Internet, newspapers, books, digital archives and libraries into one platform – thereby, for the first time, presenting MIL in a holistic manner. Second, it is specifically designed with teachers in mind and for integration into the formal teacher education system, thus launching a catalytic process which should reach and build capacities of millions of young people.

UNESCO has left no stone unturned in ensuring that a systematic and comprehensive approach be employed in the preparation of this MIL Curriculum for Teachers. The process included drafting, reviewing and validating by experts from a wide range of domains such as media, information, ICTs, education, and curriculum development. The work started in 2008 and comprised: the organization of an international expert group meeting which advised on the strategy in order to prepare the curriculum; the mapping of MIL training resources globally; the commissioning of four expert groups that prepared the draft curriculum; the organization of a second international expert group meeting to review the draft and a series of field tests through training workshops and consultations in Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia; and the preparation of a second draft and a final round of language and content editing.” (Foreword, Pdf p.11).

This publication comprises 2 parts:

Part 1: 
contains the MIL Curriculum and Competency Framework, “which gives an overview of the curriculum rationale, design and main themes. It is complementary to the UNESCO ICTs Competency Framework for Teachers (2008).”

Part 2:
contains the curriculum’s Core and Non-Core Modules.

Updated on: May 2012

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