The United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization has been promoting media education since 1982, when UNESCO gathered experts from numerous countries to debate media education in Grünwald, Germany. The Grünwald Declarationencouraged promotion of media education in school systems. At the Toulouse Conferencein 1990 delegates from 40 countries discussed the future of the media education worldwide and appealed to the need to provide guidelines for the development of specific curricula and teaching/learning materials. Through the time the concept of media radically modified, which was witnessed at the Vienna Conference in 1999. It was no longer concerned solely as press, cinema, radio and television, but as “words, signs, sounds, as well as still and moving images used as a vehicle by all kind of technology” (Recommendations addressed to the UNESCO adopted by the Vienna Conference “Educating for the Media and the Digital Age”, 18-20 April 1999).

Principles and general definitions adopted between the Grünwald and Vienna conferences were revived and summed up at the Seville Seminar in 2002. In Seville, the definition of media education went beyond the scope of school setting and emphasized the role of other actors: legislators, authorities, media industry and NGOs. UNESCO Alexandria Declaration (2005) enabled further development of media education and media literacy concepts by stating it as a basis for Lifelong Learning.  The UNESCO Paris Agenda (2007) identified twelve recommendations for Media Education. In 2011, UNESCO published Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachersas a result of collaboration of experts from a wide range of domains such as media, information, ICTs, education, and curriculum development.

One of the focus areas of IITE activities is promoting media and information literacy. The UNESCO IITE published a theoretical monograph Media Literacy and New Humanism(authors: José Manuel Pérez Tornero and Tapio Varis). The study was initiated to provide a deeper insight into the recent trends in the development of media culture and media literacy movement and to provide conceptual framework for media literacy, new media literacy curriculum and teacher training. In 2011, IITE translated Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachersinto the Russian language and held an International expert meeting on localization of the Curriculum(12 December, 2011). The key challenges of the Curriculum localization and adaptation in the regionwere further discussed within a roundtable on Instruments of MIL Promotion held by IITE in the framework of the International Conference on Media and Information Literacy for Knowledge Societies.

In 2012, IITE published a handbook Pedagogies of Media and Information Literaciesto equip teacher training institutions with a tool facilitating teaching media and information literacy.

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