3-day online International Conference “Access to Information in Time of Crisis – The UNESCO Information for All Programme Priorities and the COVID-19 Pandemic” on 26-28 August 2020 brought together more than 150 participants from all over the world. The conference focused on the impact of proactive disclosure of information on health, education, and inclusive and gender-sensitive initiatives, whilst aiming to bring about policy recommendations and good practices that can be put in place to advance public access to information for saving lives and building trust.
The conference debates took place around questions relating to access to information in crisis in the context of the promotion of the UNESCO Information for All Programme six priority areas: Information for Development, Information Literacy, Information Preservation, Information Ethics, Information Accessibility, and Multilingualism in Cyberspace. 40 panelists shared their thoughts, experience and recommendations within eight sessions outlined in the conference agenda.
The session on information literacy covered the following topics:
- Media and information literacy public policies in times of crisis (prof. Ramon Tuazon from The Philippines);
- Distance teaching without MIL: what we have learned from the coronavirus lockdown (Tatiana Murovana from UNESCO IITE);
- Mainstreaming MIL with youth organizations (prof. Therese San Diego Torres from the Philippines);
- The role of media and information literacies in combating COVID-19 infodemic: some experiences from Zimbabwe (Dr. Dokora, L D K, Mr. I. Madziko, and Dr. M. Mavesera from Zimbabwe).
In her presentation, Ms. Tatiana Murovana, UNESCO IITE programme specialist, underlined that MIL skills and attitudes are vitally essential for teachers, as during the recent health emergency staying informed and having correct information is more important than ever. Teachers should be able to navigate the online space, filter and organize digital content, identify relevant and trustworthy online resources, have a knowledge of copyright issues and open educational resources, apply critical thinking strategies and reflection upon educational experiences, use different digital media and platforms for communication with students, parents, colleagues, administration. Moreover, to facilitate remote learning teachers are expected to teach all these skills to students while organizing a wide range of online educational activities in ethical and safe way. In order to provide better professional development opportunities in MIL for teachers in the situation when MIL still remains rather new concept in most countries, UNESCO IITE in partnership and with strong support of the UNESCO Information for All Programme initiated the joint project titled “MIL in the World Affected by COVID-19: How to Teach the Teachers”. The project aims at strengthening the capacity of teacher training institutions in nine countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) through digital MIL education for secondary school teachers, in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic and disinfodemic with increased online activity and school closure.
The conference organizers are the India Centre for Information Ethics at the University of Hyderabad, India; the Russian IFAP Committee, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (Russian Federation); the African Centre for Information Ethics at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and the UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism at the University of Santa Catarina (Brazil). This event is part of the preparatory activities for the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI), which will be celebrated on 28 September 2020. IDUAI 2020 will focus on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
More information is available at the conference website.