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Goodbye, Erasmus

erasmus phixrThe future of the Erasmus scholarships is an uncertain future. Even though, of course, this only depends on who are we asking to. As we all know, the Secretary of Education, José Ignacio Wert, announced only two weeks ago the withdraw without previous notice of the state assistance for this year to all the students who weren’t beneficiaries of a general scholarship, measure that had to be abandoned after the strong protests and the opposition on behalf of the educational sector, the Autonomous Communities and the European Committee.



UAB Delegation participates in the Euranet Debate in Brussels

Politicians and citizens from all over Europe met on June 19th in the European Parliament in Brussels for the official launch of Euranet Plus, the radio and Internet network for EU news. Among those present were the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, three Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, and Juana Lahousse-Juárez, the highest ranking Spanish civil servant in the EU.



Feminine sport in the shadow of the mass media

patinatge vs futbol phixrThe feminine team of artistic skating Club Patí Olot celebrated in November their seventh gold medal in world championships that they succeeded in Chinese Taipei. The following day of the victory, 15th November, some Catalan media mentioned that new but it’s a well known fact that, compared with the male sportive events, women sports still being in second plane. Almost everybody knows the German club who won the football champions league last year, but only a few of them know that there is a Catalan skating team who wins world championships since 2006.


Alton Grizzle: “Young People: the future of today and tomorrow”

Alton GrizzleAlton Grizzle is a young Jamaican programme specialist in Communication and Information for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Grizzle is passionate about Media and Information Literacy in order to create global changes. During his years of teaching and working in the NGO sector to facilitate the human development of some of the most marginalized communities in Jamaica, he got involved in several ICTs for development initiatives. Follow Alton Grizzle’s ideas on this interview with Young Journalists.


YJ: Youth makes half of the world’s population and yet they sometimes are not included in the whole decision making process. How can young people become equal partners regarding Media and Information Literacy? Also how would UNESCO push to make this happen?

AG: Media and Information Literacy is all about citizen’s participation; young people and citizens of all age. It is about empowering young people through information and knowledge, to self-actualize, to have more agencies, meaning more control of their destiny, of their future, of their dreams, of their aspirations. This is why UNESCO is pushing this particular field. Development must be about putting young people and all citizens at the center. It’s not about governments, it’s not about media, its not about technology, it’s about people who want to live and want to enjoy life. And so were pushing for young people to participate in all aspect of development.

For example, every two years we organize a Global Youth Forum where we invite people from all over the world to be involved in UNESCO’s activities and programming. We ask them for their opinions and decisions, we engage them in debate and interaction and we expose them to a whole range of training, including Media and Information Literacy.

We know that in order for people to participate in Democracy and Good Governance, they need to be able to have access to Information, they need to be able to critically analyse information and knowledge, so were trying to give them these skills. They need to engage with their governments through the Media, through Internet, they need to know what their rights are.

In every aspect, we push for young people to be involved. And we ensure that there are youth representatives in National Steering Committees.


YJ: In one of your interviews you said that everyone has to be media literate because it will help them, how do you think that media literacy will help some countries that have issues like poverty?

AG: Well, the basis of poverty is people who don’t have opportunities to access information, first of all, if you’re poor and you can't find a job, if you don’t have food, and if you don’t have water you will need to understand “why don’t I have all these basic human needs?” it’s a question that you need to ask yourself, “I have a government in place, I am from a wealthy country that has a lot of natural resources, minerals and oils, then how is it possible that I do not have water to drink? How is it possible that I do not have food to eat? It is a basic information problem, it is something that is important for the educated and the uneducated, alike, to highlight because something is missing, there are some problems, there is something that needs to be fixed and media information literacy can help people identify the information problem around why they do not have the basic human needs and to learn where they can access the information to solve their problems, to know who are the people responsible to solve these problems and why they are not doing their job, and what can citizens do to get them to do their job.


YJ: The United Nations is involved in the Negotiation process for the 2015 post development agenda, what do you expect would be the global actions on Media and Information Literacy?

AG: Well, in fact there is a huge debate going on regarding the 2015 post development agenda. We are pushing MDGs to recognize Media and Technology for development. In fact when you look at the MDGs now there is not a lot of attention towards media as a drive for development.  And when I say this I mean Media Literacy and Information and knowledge in the development process, in the planning, and to allocate resources for that. We are pushing in debates; we have prepared discussion papers on media for development so that we can create a debate all over the world.

For example, the third MDG is about gender equality and woman’s empowerment so we have been proposing that Media and Information Literacy is a powerful tool to promote gender equality, because if you get young woman and also men to be Media and Information Literate they can critically analyse the content of media, they can see and identify stereotypes in media, they can see if media is allocating traditional roles to woman and they can challenge that stereotype and produce new content, they can reject content that has a lot of gender stereotype and they can offer counter content.


YJ: You believe in the freedom of information, do you think that it actually exists in the media?

AG: I think there is freedom of information according to the World Press Freedom House, two thirds of the world live in countries where the media are either not free or partially free and that is close to 66 percent of the world´s population, and this is, of course, a huge problem and this is why the UNESCO is pushing the freedom of expression because it is a priority for us in the communication and information sector, and we are working with our member states working with governments all over the world to put in place policies and regulations and laws to ensure the freedom of expression and freedom of information. Of course it's a complex process because we have to work with governments, law makers but also we have to work with citizens with youth because they are the real change. I always believe in the statement that says "young people are the future of tomorrow, in fact; they are the future of today, too.” They are making changes today by contributing to developments, so young people are the ones who can make the change we need in the media, government, policies and more to ensure freedom of expression although it is not absolute, so young people need to understand that opportunities with rights need some basic responsibilities.


YJ: Sometimes all of these sound very theoretical, everybody agrees that we must use MILs but how can we make a call for action?

AG: It’s a complex process, the first step would be to recognize the importance of MILs, then organize national consultations with all the stakeholders (educators, media professionals, development organizations, NGOs, and governments). How can we promote this through dialogue? It is not a simple process, its necessary to have actions in education systems. We have to work together.


YJ: Do you have any programs of collaboration with the Mena region?

AG: Yes we have programs of collaboration with the Mena region we are working strongly with the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. We have a strong partnership with them and we are trying to promote media and information literacy in the Arab region. We are working with institutions like Cairo University and the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Morocco so there are quite a number of parties we are working with in the Mena region and we have a number of offices there that also promote media and information literacy, but in terms of practical steps and guide lines international level UNESCO has developed a model of media and information literacy policy and strategy guide lines.


YJ: In countries like Egypt and Dominican Republic, primary education is a priority because there is still a lot of illiteracy, so MILs do not seem like a national priority.

AG: We understand that most countries are still troubling with basic literacy but it is important that stakeholders understand that the two are not mutually exclusive. It is not a choice between basic literacy and Media and Information Literacy. It’s an expanded definition of literacy, it’s not something new, it’s not different, it is a part of literacy. We are in a world mediated by images, by graphics and by big data. 

So as young people this is an argument that you have to tell to your national governments, it is not a choice between Mils and basic literacy. Media and Information Literacy is Literacy! 



Picture Credits: UAB Communication and Education Cabinet



Growth this year will be higher than initially forecast. The unemployment rate, whilst still much too high, has stopped increasing

Jose Manuel Barroso


Social Media: A “gamechanger” for young people

By Lucciana Rupp & Sandra Hernández, Dominican Republic

Mass Media and Social Communications students from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology (Egypt) and from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (Dominican Republic) discussed the role of social media and young journalists in order to drive change in their communities. Follow their ideas in this article.

a man during the 2011 Egyptian protests carrying a card saying. Photo credits: Essam Sharaf

In our recent conversation with Mass Communication students from Egypt, we noticed that both countries have a few things in common in terms of journalism.

In the Dominican Republic and in Egypt journalists sometimes face conflicts of interest. Owners of media outlets and employees try to profit from a work that should be primarily social. That has been the common issue that stops achieving freedom of expression in both nations.

In Egypt, there are far more mechanisms of repression, but in the Dominican Republic there is no other than the censorship journalists impose on themselves (auto censorship) in order to “not bite the hand that feeds them".

Also, the economy affects the whole population. Mass Communication student Sohaila Hussein says that in Egypt the majority of people are just trying to survive. With such low wages Egyptians cannot think about freedom. “When people are hungry why would they want a change?” Sohaila adds.


Despite the general resignation, Egyptians won a massive victory after expressing their will through social networks. By 2011, President Hosni Mubarak had been ruling Egypt for almost 30 years. It seemed that his dictatorship would last longer because of the succession plans of his son Gamal Mubarak. Egyptians were fed up with their situation and started to summon their friends and family to take action.  Web messages, tweets, Facebook statuses, announced their disappointment on high unemployment rates, corruption, and lack of freedom, police brutality, and impunity.

When the government authorities tried to stop them by restricting the access to those platforms it was too late. People from around the world were following the strong protests and expressing their support.

Finally, Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011.

Dominican citizens wave their hands signaling a number four as they demanded during

However, according to students from Alexandria, the situation somehow remains the same. In spite of this, Mohamed Gharbia, a Mass Communication student from Alexandria, believes that he and his colleagues can help society through social media projects. “We as people that study the ways of broadcasting, the ways of giving people an information, should be agents of change”, Gharbia said.

During the conversation he referred to citizen journalism. But, as our teacher Merybell Reynoso said, that kind of journalism includes obstacles like unsustainability, and unverified information that could lead to confusion. Moreover, it could serve to vile government interests.

4 por ciento Jos Rodrguez

Mohamed Gharbia agreed on that, but emphasized that even though there is “powerful people” who try to crush that kind of projects, “we have to face them with our morals and beliefs”. It means that as journalists, we should generate our own information to confront and defeat corruption and other social issues.

Some may argue that social networks in themselves mean nothing, but people in Egypt and in the Dominican Republic know how powerful they are. Something similar to the Egyptian Spring happened in the Dominican Republic, not necessarily to overthrow the government but to hold it to account. Until 2013, the Dominican Republic had invested just 2 percent of the GDP in education - one of the lowest levels in Latin America.

Dominicans, especially young people, were aware of the educational system´s shortcomings, so they used social networks to demand their rights to a better education. With this, they demanded that the government invest 4% of its annual budget on improving primary and secondary school education.

Facebook and Twitter were the platforms through which people agreed and reminded each other to wear yellow every Monday and to gather in key places from Santo Domingo to protest. On December 2013, Dominicans succeeded; the 4 percent investment for education was approved.



This is just an example of what countries (even if geographically distant) around the globe and the new generations are doing: digitally demanding their rights and influencing others to do so through social media.  

Gharbia, has faith in citizen journalism and dares to conclude with strong motivational words for aspiring journalists: The worst thing that can happen is that things stay the same. What do you have to lose? Your life? I think that, personally, my life is a small price if I'm going to do something that is going to change the world”.







Special Thanks to:

Sohaila, Mohamed, and Alaa. 

Photo credits:

Photo 1: A man during the 2011 Egyptian protests carrying a card saying "Facebook, #jan25, The Egyptian Social Network" illustrating the vital role played by social networks in initiating the uprising. Photo credits: Essam Sharaf 

Photo 2: Dominican citizens wave their hands signaling a number four as they demanded during "Voces Unidas por la Educación (2011)"  that the government invest 4% of its annual budget on improving primary and secondary school education.  Photo credits: Merybell Reynoso

 Photo 3: Dominican man participates of "Voces Unidas por la Educación" a concert and popular manifestation that back in 2011 demanded thatthe government invest 4% of its annual budget on improving primary and secondary school education. Photo credits: José Rodríguez