In order to survive and develop, make decisions, and solve problems in every facet of life – personal, social, educational, and professional, individuals, communities, and nations need information about themselves as well as their physical and their social environments. This information is available via three processes: observation and experimentation, conversation (with other persons), and consultation (with memory institutions). The competence to do this effectively and efficiently is called Media and Information Literacy.
Media and Information Literacy consists of the knowledge, the attitudes, and the sum of the skills needed to know when and what information is needed; where and how to obtain that information; how to evaluate it critically and organise it once it is found; and how to use it in an ethical way. The concept extends beyond communication and information technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking, and interpretative skills across and beyond professional and educational boundaries. Media and Information Literacy includes all types of information resources: oral, print, and digital.
Media and Information Literacy is a basic human right in an increasingly digital, interdependent, and global world, and promotes greater social inclusion. It can bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor. Media and Information Literacy empowers and endows individuals with knowledge of the functions of the media and information systems and the conditions under which these functions are performed. Media and Information Literacy is closely related to Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning enables individuals, communities, and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for the shared benefit of all individuals, not just a few. It assists them and their institutions and organisations to meet their technological, economic, and social challenges, to redress disadvantages, and to advance every individual’s well-being.
Under the umbrella of the developing information/knowledge society at all levels – local, regional, national, and international, we urge governments and intergovernmental organizations as well as private institutions and organisations to pursue policies and programs that advocate for and promote Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning for all. In so doing, they will provide the vital foundation for fulfilling the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on the Information Society.
In particular, IFLA recommends that governments and organisations to do the following:
- Commission research on the state of Media and Information Literacy and produce reports, using the Media and Information Literacy indicators as a base, so that experts, educators, and practitioners are able to design effective initiatives;
- Support professional development for education, library, information, archive, and health and human services personnel in the principles and practices of Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning;
- Embed Media and Information Literacy education in all Lifelong Learning curricula;
- Recognise Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning as key elements for the development of generic capabilities which must be demonstrated for accreditation of all education and training programs;
- Include Media and Information Literacy in the core and continuing education of information professionals, educators, economic and government policymakers and administrators, as well as in the practice of advisors to the business, industry and agriculture sectors;
- Implement Media and Information Literacy programs to increase the employability and entrepreneurial capacities of women and disadvantaged groups, including migrants, the underemployed and the unemployed; and,
- Support thematic meetings which will facilitate the acquisition of Media and Information and Lifelong Learning strategies within specific regions, sectors, and population groups.
Endorsed by the Governing Board of IFLA, at its meeting in Den Haag, The Netherlands, 7 December 2011