Doc. 9026

10 April 2001

Media education

Recommendation 1466 (2000)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 748th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (3 April 2001)

The Committee of Ministers has considered with much attention Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1466 (2000) on Media education. The Committee of Ministers is aware of the specific problems related to the use of new technologies. It agrees that it is indeed a very serious and complex problem. In particular, it can fully agree with the point of view of the Assembly in paragraph 9 of the Recommendation concerning the role of media education in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and to information and in individual participation in democratic life.

Given that the subject of the Recommendation deals simultaneously with the media and with education, the Committee of Ministers has requested opinions from its two specialised committees, the Education Committee and the Steering Committee on the Mass Media. These opinions are appended to this reply.

As regards the educational sector of the Council of Europe, the Education Committee has sought to address this problem in several of its own projects (see below), in compliance with point 13.i of the Recommendation.

As part of the project on “Educational strategies for social cohesion and democratic security” a symposium was held in Jurmala (Latvia) on 8-10 July 1999 on “Information technology in schools: reasons and strategies for investment”. The report of the symposium has been published. This particular question is one of the subjects of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1437 (1999) on non-formal education, to which the Committee of Ministers has given a reply, also making reference, inter alia, to this project.

The project on “Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century” devoted a symposium in Andorra on 25-27 March 1999 to “The Challenges of information and communication technologies”, as well as several European teacher training seminars on this topic.

The project “Education for Democratic Citizenship” and the Programme for In-Service Training of Educational Staff placed a particular emphasis on the decisive role of basic and in-service teacher training in this field.

With regard to point 13.ii of the Recommendation, the Committee of Ministers considers that media education should be taken into account throughout the whole education process and concerns all sectors of education. The Education Committee is planning to implement, as advocated in point 13.iv, an integrated European approach to media education, possibly in co-operation with the media sector of the Council of Europe, and to consider the feasibility of setting up an international office for media education.

In respect of point 13.iii, the Committee of Education is envisaging close examination of existing practices in media education in the member states of the Council for Cultural Co-operation under its new project “Teaching and learning in the communication society”, which will be implemented jointly with the Higher Education and Research Committee from 2001.

As regards the media sector of the Council of Europe, media education had been identified as an issue of prime importance in the texts adopted at the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Thessaloniki, December 1997), as it is now a prerequisite for individual access to all kinds of knowledge, including education and training. It should thus be underlined that an important element which complements media education is media literacy, i.e. the ability of individuals to access and distribute information via communication means. This literacy, which is particularly important in the context of the new communication and information services, calls for regular updating of training programmes to keep pace with technical developments in this sector.

Therefore, the Committee of Ministers can reiterate the importance of this question, particularly as regards the cohesion, stability and economic development of Greater Europe, while pointing out that many member States have already taken steps to promote media education, in addition to the initiatives undertaken to the same end within other international organisations such as the European Union. For that reason Recommendation R (99)14 on universal community service concerning new communication and information services, which the Committee of Ministers adopted on the basis of work carried out by its Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) following the Ministerial Conference in Thessaloniki, invited the member states to take steps to foster media education.

Similarly, the Declaration on a European policy for new information technologies adopted by the Committee of Ministers at its 104th session (Budapest, May 1999) highlighted the very special importance of media education by devoting an entire section to measures that should be taken by member state governments to foster competence in the new information technologies and in particular “to enable individuals to make active, critical and discerning use of these technologies”.

The Committee of Ministers will continue to pay attention to the problem of media education and will also bear it in mind while preparing its programme of activities for 2002.”

Appendix I

Opinion of the Education Committee on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1466 (2000) on media education

1.       The Education Committee welcomes the Parliamentary Assembly’s recommendation on media education. This initiative fits in with the concerns expressed by the Education Committee for some time and which it has sought to address in several of its own projects.

2.       The Education Committee shares the views of the Parliamentary Assembly in its analysis of the new situation brought about by the emergence of the information society, which gives rise to new challenges for both adults and young people.

3.       The Education Committee very quickly became aware of the specific problems related to the use of new technologies in education, which come under its own field of competence.

4.       As part of the project on “educational strategies for social cohesion and democratic security”, a symposium was held in Jurmala (Latvia) from 8 to 10 July 1999 on “information technology in schools: reasons and strategies for investment”. The report of this symposium has been published.

5.       The project on “learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century” devoted a symposium in Andorra from 25 to 27 March 1999 on “the challenges of information and communication technologies”, as well as several European teacher training seminars, to this topic. The various reports are available.

6.       Particular emphasis should be placed on the decisive role of basic and in-service teacher training and on the fact that the use of new technologies should form an integral part of such training.

      This theme was also discussed by the Project "Education for Democratic Citizenship" at seminars and in the framework of the Programme for In-Service Training of Educational Staff.

7.       The Education Committee cannot but share the Assembly’s view on the importance of media education in the context of life-long learning.

8.       With regard to the Parliamentary Assembly’s recommendations contained in paragraph 13:

i.       The Education Committee entirely shares the Assembly’s view in considering media education as an important area for the Council of Europe’s bodies in the fields of education for democratic citizenship, new information technologies and non-formal education; the Education Committee gave an opinion on Recommendation 1437 (2000) on non-formal education at its previous meeting.

ii.       With regard to point 13.ii, the Committee believes that media education is of such vital importance that it should be taken into account throughout the whole education process and concern all sectors of education.

iii.       In respect of point 13.iii, the Committee is envisaging close examination of existing practices in media education in the member states of the Council for Cultural Co-operation under its new project “teaching and learning in the communication society”, which will be implemented jointly with the Higher Education and Research Committee from 2001.

iv.       As part of the new project, the Committee is planning to implement, as advocated in point 13.iv, an integrated European approach to media education and to consider the feasibility of setting up an international office for media education.

Appendix II

Opinion of the CDMM on Recommendation 1466 (2000)

of the Parliamentary Assembly

1.       The CDMM fully shares the views of the Parliamentary Assembly as regards the importance of media education in the context of the development of the new communication and information services and what is more generally known as the Information Society. In particular, the CDMM can only but agree with the point of view expressed by the Assembly in paragraph 9 of the Recommendation concerning the role of media education in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and to information and in individual participation in democratic life.

2.       The CDMM recalls in this connection that media education had been identified as an issue of prime importance in the texts adopted at the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Thessaloniki, December 1997), in particular since it is a prerequisite for the access of every individual to the possibilities opened up by the aforementioned new services, particularly in terms of culture, education and training.

3.       For that reason, media education is a prime factor in meeting the objective of social cohesion, whose importance was stressed by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in their 2nd Summit declaration (Strasbourg, October 1997).

4.       It was in the same spirit and to the same end that Recommendation R (99) 14 on universal community service concerning new communication and information services, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the basis of work already carried out by the CDMM following the Ministerial Conference in Thessaloniki, invited the member States to take steps to foster media education.

5.       Similarly, the Declaration on a European policy for new information technologies adopted by the Committee of Ministers at its 104th session (Budapest, May 1999) highlighted the very special importance of media education by devoting an entire section to measures that should be taken by member State governments to foster competence in the new information technologies and in particular "to enable individuals to make active, critical and discerning use of these technologies".

6.       The CDMM wishes to underline that an important element which complements media education, within the meaning expressed in the preceding paragraph, is media literacy, which is to be understood as the ability of individuals to access and distribute information via communication means. This literacy, which is particularly important in the context of the new communication and information services, calls for regular updating of training programmes to keep pace with technical developments in this sector.

7.       The CDMM can therefore but reiterate the importance of this question, particularly as regards the cohesion, stability and economic development of Greater Europe, while pointing out that many member States have already taken steps to promote media education, in addition to the initiatives undertaken to the same end within other international organisations such as the European Union.

8.       Nevertheless, in the light of the ongoing priority-setting for Council of Europe activities, it is for the Committee of Ministers to decide whether or not media education should form part of the Organisation's key fields of activity over the coming years.

9.       Should the Committee of Ministers decide to make media education a priority activity of the Council of Europe, the CDMM is willing to make its contribution to a broader effort involving the different Council sectors concerned. Such a contribution from the CDMM might focus, as mentioned in paragraph 12 of the Assembly Recommendation, on the potential role of the media in promoting media education.

10.       As paragraph 13.ii of the Assembly Recommendation quite rightly points out, such a contribution should form part of a co-ordinated, inter-sectoral approach involving other bodies such as the Education Committee, which the Committee of Ministers has also decided to consult.

11.       In this connection, the CDMM wishes to draw the attention of the Committee of Ministers to the fact that, at its 54th meeting (17-20 October 2000), it held an exchange of views with a representative of the Education Committee, precisely with a view to preparing the ground for such an approach. This exchange gave pointers for possible lines of action which, once again subject to the Committee of Ministers making media education a priority, could be further explored in the coming months, prior to submitting conclusions and possible action proposals to the Committee of Ministers. The Assembly's proposal to promote an integrated European approach to media education - possibly through the creation of an international office for media education - could be studied in this context.