Media and information literacy, MIL, in France is a long-standing subject within public educational policies. The mission of the French school of the Republic is to form free and enlightened citizens. This approach to schooling is rooted in the principles of the French Revolution focusing on a thought-provoking education. For generations of educators, this heritage must be taught as a fundamental way of thinking about the world and acting in it.
The commitment of public actors, convinced of the need for school to take up media issues has led in the early eighties to the establishment of CLEMI, the Center for media and information literacy. Since CLEMI was created, the objects have changed but the stakes remain the same. Media education is a key to preserving the future of our democracies because mastering information is an essential skill for future citizens. CLEMI is a public operator, acting for the French Ministry of National Education. Its objectives are to enable children and young people to be able to put at a distance any content on any type of medium and to sharpen their critical mind.
CLEMI’s action is divided in 4 dimensions:
- teacher and trainers’ training in media and information literacy.
- the production of pedagogical resources in media and information literacy.
- the development of media creation in schools.
- the development of educational actions in schools and of media cooperation.
CLEMI acts as a go-between, to enable all the actors engaged in media and information literacy to work together and create links with the teaching staff, within schools.
Since 2013 and the Orientation and Programming Law for the Refoundation of the School of Republic, the mission of School is to develop “the knowledge, skills and culture necessary for the exercise of citizenship in the contemporary information and communication society.” Throughout students’ initial schooling, before university, all school programs are allowed to work on MIL themes.
Teacher-librarians, within schools, play an essential role in this process. Those teachers are major actors for MIL issues as they are often the ones involving their colleagues in actions, registering classes or schools in CLEMI’s operation, during, for instance, the Press and Media Week at School. This action that has been going on for more than 30 years offers pupils the opportunity to discover the plurality of the media sector and discuss with media professionals through workshops and media visits. It has become a milestone in MIL and involves thousands of teachers, schools and students, each year.
While the involvement of all actors and the production of resources are essential, the importance of teacher training should not be forgotten. Each year, about 30,000 teachers and educators are trained. CLEMI provides training for trainers and teachers of all levels, in all disciplines, with a strong commitment in elementary schools where fundamental skills such as reading or writing news must be acquired. CLEMI also opened up its training offer to a wider educational community, including a diverse group of educators and social workers.
Despite its initial school-based approach, CLEMI has also developed, a series of actions toward families. Helping children to become smarter consumers of information and responsible producers on social media implies a commitment from both families and the educational community. However not all parents consider they have the digital and media skills to properly assist their children. The idea is to help parents to reach a better knowledge of information evaluation tools and of the digital world in order to create the conditions for a dialogue on these issues within their families.
CLEMI produces and develops an enriched offer for families: a practical guide, a teaching kit, and a short humorous web and TV series called the Screens Family (La Famille Tout Ecran) with supporting workshops. The latest production is a comic book called in Juliette’s head, which notably discusses issues of attention-grabbing media.
An informational culture must be co-constructed with all actors involved. It can be the basis of a powerful digital citizenship. Parents, families, educators, students must be helped to learn how to inform themselves. Being empowered is the best way to fight disinformation and the best road map for media and information literacy’s future.
Anaïs Adriaens-Allemand, International Project manager, CLEMI