The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) is convening a Media Literacy and Culture of Reading Summit on the weekend of Saturday 28 - 29 March 2009 at the Council Chambers, Alfred Nzo District Municipality, Mt Ayliff, in the Eastern Cape. The theme for the summit is “Basic media literacy education - ‘Constructing Views of Reality'”.
The Agency has a mandate to create an enabling environment for media development and diversity that is conducive to public discourse and which reflects the needs and aspirations of all South Africans. Further, Section 3 (v) of the MDDA Act requires the Agency to support initiatives which promote literacy and a culture of reading. Accordingly, the MDDA is holding this summit as an attempt to support initiatives that promote literacy and a culture of reading amongst diminished language groups and inadequately served communities.
In this regard, the MDDA has formed a partnership with the Department of Education (DoE), Alfred Nzo District Municipality, the Institute for Advancement in Journalism (IAJ), Newspapers in Education (NIE) and the Alfred Nzo Community Radio to introduce a culture of reading and basic media literacy amongst learners in schools, to promote debate and dialogue on media for learners and to encourage learners to be involved in producing their own media.
The two-day summit will kick off with a launch addressed by the Deputy Minister of Education - Adv. Andrè Gaum and attended by dignitaries such as the MEC of Education in the Eastern Cape - Mr Mahlubandile Qwase; the Executive Mayor of Alfred Nzo District - Mr GG Mpumza; Acting Speaker of Alfred Nzo District Municipality - Ms Patience Goya; Mayor of Umzimvubu Municipality - Ms Bulelwa Mabhengu; Mayor of Matatiele Municipality - Mr Sello Ntai; the Press Ombudsman - Mr Joe Thloloe; SABC Chief People's Officer and MDDA Board member - Ms Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande; MDDA Board member - Ms Nomonde Gongxeka and others.
There will be a roundtable discussion which will be led by the MEC of Education in the Province, Mr Mahlubandile Qwase. The Press Ombudsman Mr Joe Thloloe will guide the summit through issues pertaining to self-regulation, democracy, constitution and the children's rights in relation to the media.
The 10 schools that have been selected to participate in this summit are from the Umzimvubu and Matatiele Municipalities. The schools are St Margaret SSS, Moiketsi Graves SSS, Mt Hargreaves SSS, Maluti JSS, Pontseng JSS, Arthur Ngunga SSS, E.N. Makaula JSS, Zibokwane JSS, Mt Ayliff JSS and Mahamane JSS. The learners will be attending with their teachers. It is expected that at the end of the summit, the learners would produce a pro-forma cover page of a newspaper. Alfred Nzo Community Radio will explain what a community radio is and demystify radio for the learners.
“MDDA and its partners have identified a gap in the market and have decided to launch the first pilot programme called Media Literacy and Culture of Reading Summit at the Alfred Nzo District in the Eastern Cape. Alfred Nzo District Municipality is made up of Matatiele and Umzimvubu local municipalities. In terms of geographical area, Alfred Nzo is the smallest district and the poorest in the Eastern Cape. The Alfred Nzo district is predominately rural with very low levels of literacy among learners,” says Mr Lumko Mtimde, Chief Executive Officer of the MDDA.
The deficiency of a culture of reading is a major concern in South African society and indeed in the Southern African region. Media education is part of the basic entitlement of every citizen, in every country in the world, to freedom of expression and the right to information and is instrumental in building and sustaining democracy.
The long term goal for MDDA and its partners is to see the Media Literacy and Culture of Reading programme included in the school curriculum and schools producing their own media products. The intention is to assist young people to be more critical consumers and producers of media as well as to stimulate an interest in media as a field of study. It is envisioned that through this initiative a platform will be set to develop media literacy skills which can be used across the curriculum, thereby contributing to the upliftment of educational standards and promotion of a culture of reading. The promotion of a reading culture amongst South Africans will extend the pool of creativity and communication skills in the country. There is an immense hunger amongst South African youth for information which they can use to improve their lives and empower them to have an effective say in governing.