SIGNIS GLOBAL MEDIA EDUCATION PROJECT – SiGMEP
Johannesburg SIGNIS Charter on Media Education
Building a Global Community of Media Educators
SIGNIS recognizes the power of the media and their influence in all aspects of individual, community, and social life. The fact that we live in a mediated environment makes it imperative to promote Media Education.
While media are meant to contribute to human development and well-being, not all media activities uphold human values and dignity. By their nature, national and global media influence people’s consciousness and social life, often leading to the legimatization of the status quo. Critical thinking skills are essential for citizens of the 21st century so that all of us may be active participants in existing and emerging democracies. This means that people interacting with media messages will be empowered to challenge social, political, and economic structures when these put at risk the person, the community, human development, or the environment.
Against this background, Media Education (Media Literacy, Critical Media Education and Edu-communication) enables people to examine the process of media production, media strategies, media ownership, the ways knowledge and meaning are made, as well as the capacity of the media to contribute to the common good and to empower citizens.
This Johannesburg SIGNIS Charter on Media Education, animated by spiritual, moral, and human values of empathy, freedom and responsibility, truth and justice, and peace and reconciliation, aims to promote Media Education as a human right and a moral imperative for all societies and their governments. This Charter is based on human and Gospel values and on the teachings of the Catholic Church, respecting all faiths in a spirit of dialogue.
To achieve community-oriented global communication and promote a sustainable environment, this Charter aims to offer an effective action platform to intervene, advocate and promote Media Education at all levels.
(ll) Rationale for Media Education Media Education provides a conceptual framework and methodology to develop awareness, access, analyze, critically evaluate, and produce media in their various forms. Its definition encompasses three main dimensions:
Critical – developing the critical competence to analyze and assess the media as cultural, social and economic institutions;
Creative – developing and enhancing creativity to enable the use of the media for expression, interpersonal communication and active participation in the public arena;
Cultural – broadening knowledge and experience of different kinds of media forms, content, and technology.
We believe that Media Education Empowers people to interact and engage critically with media in local and global socio-political, economic and cultural contexts; Enables people, through the use of the media, to become active citizens able to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities; Engages people to analyze media messages in relation to their institutions, codes and conventions, audiences, technologies and ideologies; Provides ways for people to make informed choices;
Inspires the creative and democratic use of the media to express and communicate ideas, information and opinions, as well as to entertain, in an effort to promote participation in the creation of content; Encourages the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)to shape and share alternative content, media products and services to meet individual, community, and regional needs and interests; Promotes interpersonal communication to build positive relationships, family life, and community; Enhances the dignity of the human person and the potential for ethical/moral and spiritual development, in solidarity with the poor, and with respect for the earth and cultural heritages.
(III) Aims of the Charter The Charter proposes to launch a Global Network of Media Educators (GNME) that will:
Strengthen continuing Media Education efforts by both individuals and organizations;
Develop regional leadership for Media Education activities;
Develop strategic Media Education programs, curricula and events;
Produce and make available print, electronic, and web resources for regional and global use.
Advocate the institutionalization of Media Education as part of national educational policies, and formal, informal and non-formal educational processes, and teacher training; Conduct ongoing research to reflect changing realities and to assess Media Education initiatives; and Establishing a SIGNIS desk to co-ordinate the activities of the GNME.
(IV) The Way Forward
As citizens of the world in a multimedia age, we, members of SIGNIS, declare the importance of Media Education in strengthening the values of family, school, faith communities, public institutions, and society as a whole. Through this Johannesburg SIGNIS Charter on Media Education, we want to join hands with media professionals, cultural groups, and agencies that work to empower children, young and older people, women, and marginalized communities to participate actively to transform our mediated world into one of justice, peace and democracy for all.
Johannesburg, South Africa
29 – 30 March 2007