(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Students at Sukaina Bint Al Hussein Secondary School in Zarqa are passionate about media and information literacy (MIL). Twice a week, 15 girls take part in the MIL club, led by teachers Samar Souleman and Souad Ahmed.The EU funded and UNESCO implemented the 'Youth Empowerment' project represents a timely response to promoting the safe and ethical use of media and the Internet. The project works to advance MIL as a holistic response to fostering the informed use, consumption and production of media and Internet among youth in Jordan, a joint statement said.'This initiative is being carried out in partnership with the minister of state for media affairs, the Ministry of Education, the media community and civil society in Jordan,' according to the statement.
'With the Media Diversity Institute and Jordan Media Institute [JMI], establishing MIL clubs for students in grades seven to nine has been a key aspect of the 'Youth Empowerment' project. The clubs are operating across 15 schools throughout Jordan and seek to encourage youth to ethically and critically consume and produce media content. More specifically, the clubs have been focusing on freedom of expression, digital media literacy, visual media creation, authenticity of news, ethical reporting and online privacy and security, among other topics,' the statement said.
Earlier this year, UNESCO offered an intensive MIL master training to 43 teachers and principals. The workshop was conducted in partnership with the London-based Media Diversity Institute and the JMI. Trainees from Irbid, Zarqa and Maan gathered at the JMI for four days, as expert trainers delivered an intensive workshop designed to enhance knowledge of MIL principles and equip participants with the tools to pass along their newfound MIL expertise to youth across Jordan, the statement said.
Souleman and Ahmed were quoted in the statement as saying they were thrilled to be part of the training programme. 'We are honoured that our school has been selected to have an MIL club. Through the club, we feel we are creating leaders who know the difference between what is right and what is wrong', Souleman said. 'The students who have joined the club are clever and generally have quite strong personalities. For these girls, the MIL curriculum is empowering and further encourages them to speak their minds.'
'We are in the midst of a digital revolution and strong MIL skills are more important than ever. In the future, we will be the ones — perhaps not as journalists but at least as citizen journalists — bringing stories and news to the world,' Nadine, a club member, said.
Headmistress Yousra Khrisha said she was proud of her school and pleased with the addition of the club. 'Our school is known as an environment that is conducive to learning and is producing global thinkers. The MIL club reinforces this and is a safe space for students to explore ideas.'
The MIL clubs operate with the aim of equipping students with stronger critical thinking skills and the ability to digest and produce media ethically. For some of the participants, this has helped them to shape their vision for the future and piqued their interest in working in media, the statement said.
'I want to be a journalist as a result of this club. I know now how to take a picture properly and how to practice scepticism when developing a story,' reveals Rawan.
'For me, I feel my eyes have been opened as I am now suspicious of some news stories and investigate sources. I have also learned how to manage sensitive matters on social media, especially situations that involve children or the victims of an accident,' said MIL club member Sumayyah. 'I have also learned the importance of not invading the privacy of others when making use of social media.'
Strengthening MIL skills falls within UNESCO's mandate of encouraging freedom of expression. The objectives of the 'Youth Empowerment' project align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically targeting Sustainable Development Goal 16, which strives to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies, according to the statement.