Media literacy: a major educational challenge

According to Viviane Reding, Commissioner in charge of the Information Society and Media: “media literacy is as central to active and full citizenship as literacy was at the beginning of 19th century”.

Media literacy is one of Europe’s major educational challenges for the 21st century. At the national as well as the European level, all the indicators demonstrate the urgent need to structure, elaborate and implement transversally an educational programme meant to develop the citizen’s critical faculty towards a mass communication society. To be genuine actors of cultural life, democracy and social life, the citizens must develop a greater number of media skills resulting from formal and informal education with curricular and extracurricular activities, in compulsory education as well as in lifelong learning.

The online European observatory, ( has listed the hundreds of institutions, non-governmental organisations and study centres with an expertise in the domain. In several EU member states, media literacy is now receiving greater recognition within the education systems, in particular, with respect to the inclusion of key competencies in the curriculum. Media literacy is currently on the agenda of the educational policies, and we know through the European network, that several large-scale legislative initiatives or projects are being studied by the member states. At the level of the European Commission as well, the MEDIA programme has initiated a transversal task with a view to produce greater consistency in the implementation of media literacy.

The main obstacles for a better circulation of knowledge and findings on media education are related to the fundamentally transversal nature of this domain. Media literacy has an impact on a great number of school subjects and does not benefit from the structuring particular to specific disciplinary networks. For it to be developed in the education systems, media literacy requires a close collaboration between all the actors concerned: teachers, educators, social workers, parents, researchers and media professionals. Conceptually speaking, it requires a cross of the models and methods taken from psychology, pedagogy, communication, and sociology… Furthermore, the extremely rapid evolution of the media (as much from the technological viewpoint as from the sociological one) requires an incessant adaptation of the methods and contents of this education.

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