MiLLi* takes media skills to hard-to-reach youth

A teenager’s life in Katima Mulilo, Gobabis or Karasburg can feel remote. It is far not only from the capital, but also from access to media.

A recent study of Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie, Germany’s leading media development organisation, shows that only 62 percent of young Namibians can regularly listen to the radio. Internet access is even less widespread: Only 20 percent can go online at home.
Living in Windhoek, however, does not mean a young Namibian has profound knowledge about media. Many do not know how media is produced, spread and critically assessed. Yet, such skills are crucial nowadays.

That is where Namibia’s new non-profit Media and Information Literacy Learning Initiative (MiLLi*) comes to play. MiLLi* aims to spread knowledge and understanding about Media and Information Literacy (MIL).



The initiative was started by MATS, the media, arts, technology studies department of the College of the Arts in Windhoek. Joost van de Port, head of media department, points out his department’s goal: “We more and more realise that students who arrive here have zero understanding of media. This initiative aims to address this challenge.”

Director of the College of the Arts Angelika Schroeder moreover says: “It is important to reach out to our community and not just to the Windhoek community, but Namibians at large.

Media partners… From left: Dani Leese, DW Akademie country coordinator for Namibia and Joost van de Port, head of media department, smile to the camera during the signing of the MoU in Windhoek.

The initiative hopes to involve villagers in media literacy “That is also why the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) is a strong partner within the initiative and supports all MiLLi* outreach activities in the regions of Namibia.

Brian Prince, NYC corporate communication and marketing officer, speaks enthusiastically about the NYC’s involvement in MiLLi*: “The NYC is an umbrella body for youth organisations and established from the grassroot level. We are involved in MiLLi* so these young people can benefit from the information shared by the initiative.”

For the first four years the MiLLi* kick-off is moreover supported by Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie.
DW Akademie country coordinator for Namibia Dani Leese explains why: “Even though media and information literacy are so crucial there are currently not enough qualified MIL facilitators in Namibia. MiLLi* is going to improve that. Therefore, DW Akademie relies on the strong local capacities of the College of the Arts and their very good lecturers to build on. So MiLLi* at MATS can become Namibia’s MIL centre of excellence.”

The MiLLi* team has already outlined a roadmap for the initiative, whose Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July. The first ‘Summer School In Winter’ is going to take place between August 26 and September 4 at MATS Campus, Katutura Community Arts Centre in Windhoek.

TV, radio, photo, and sound workshops will qualify MiLLi* facilitators for media educational projects so MiLLi* can spread in the regions.

Adrian Hans, MATS course leader in sound technology hopes that MiLLi* can educate young Namibians who often lack critical media awareness: ““The Summer School will equip people with the necessary skills to look at whether media content is biased or unbiased.”
And the Summer School is only the beginning. A one-year Certificate Course is about to start after the next term at MATS. People can acquire the MiLLi* Second Level Qualification and become a media literacy multiplier.

During Summer School youth groups are going to engage in media educational projects. The newly established Omaheke Radio, airing from September, will send three young people, Charles Neels, Lydia De Muinda and Maurley Hlongwane, who are partially trained and engaged at the station as presenters.

As soon as the first facilitators have been trained they can thus go out in the regions and share their knowledge. So, in the end youngsters in Katima Mulilo, Karasburg, Gobabis and all over Namibia will benefit and can claim their fair share in today’s global information society. – Omaheke.com

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