Media Council Partners with UNESCO to Support Media Literacy in Kenya

The Media Council of Kenya(MCK) has partnered with UNESCO to develop the first National Media and Information Literacy Policy for Kenya that will enable the process for the enactment of a legal framework on media and information literacy for Kenya.

MCK Director for Media Training and Development, Mr. Victor Bwire, in a consultative meeting in Nairobi, said that having the policy in place will aid in addressing the dynamics of the changing media landscape and help to educate the public on being responsible content consumers.

“The media sector is evolving, and we must therefore enhance our involvement in the changing media landscape and move away from policing people to making them responsible content consumers”, said Mr. Bwire.

The policy is aimed at strengthening community media policy and practice while at the same time empowering citizens, particularly the youth, through enhanced Media and Information Literacy (MIL) competencies in Kenya.

“The rise of independent content producers has brought about an explosion in information leading proliferation of misinformation. Therefore, its important to have a structured manner on how media operates in Kenya”, stated Bwire.

The enactment of a policy and legal framework will enable the development and implementation of interventions and related curricula on Media and Information Literacy for both informal and formal learning institutions that will allow for responsible development and consumption of media content among Kenyan children, youth, and adults.

Mr. Bwire also emphasized the need to mainstream the document once adopted, noting that the Council will work with the other ministries and key stakeholders to trigger a national conversation. “Let us be honest and more involved while making contributions towards this policy”, he added.

UNESCO National Programme Officer Mr. John Okande underscored the importance of diversity while developing the document as it will include diverse voices reflecting different societies in Kenya to ensure ownership of the document.

“Our aim is to ensure that the MIL policy embraces diversity to mirror the different societies in Kenya. The document will assist in guiding different interventions and strategies of programmes within the country. UNESCO is keen to support the process, I call upon you to look at the document, refine it and own it. It is important to have currency in terms of content from the people who the policy is intended for.”He added.

Daystar University Dean of Communication Prof Levi Obonyo reiterated the importance of policy formulation, saying that it requires constant input to align it with the changing media landscape in Kenya.

“Policy requires constant consultations to keep abreast with the emerging realities in the media sector. Policymakers, journalists and the entire society should be brought together for multi stakeholder involvement that will ensure that everyone is MIL compliant”, he said.

Media Complaints Commissioner Prof Nancy Booker said media convergence had exposed media consumers to different forms of media, providing a competitive ground for media players.

“One of the things that concerns me is about equity when we talk about guaranteed access to information to each individual noting the differences between the people living in the rural as opposed to those in urban areas and how they are exposed to different sources of media. I hope that the policy will address such issues and ensure that no one is disadvantaged when setting the MIL standards”, said Prof Booker.