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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.


Chido Onumah: “Young people: it’s their world, they own it”

Chido-Onumah-1Chido Onumah is a Nigerian journalist and coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, and member of the Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy. Onumah’s passion for media education has led him to travel all over the world as a reporter and an expert in media training for professional journalists as well as promoting media and information literacy for students and youth in Africa. Follow Chido Onumah’s ideas on this interview with Young Journalists.



YJ: Why did you become involved in Media and Information Literacy Initiatives (MILs)?

CO: I’ve been a journalist for more that 20 years, and media education has always been part of what I have been interested. I know the power of the media to create social change, and the effect of not understanding it as well.

In a personal level, my interest came about 12 years ago. I was working in Washington DC, and I took a trip to the Caribbean, to Dominican Republic and Haiti. I was working with people with HIV/AIDS, discussing with them and their families. I recall this project where young people would come from school and go to the office and do this radio program. These high school students would have this radio programs for one hour a week, and during the week they will come to our NGO and sit behind microphones and talk about their experiences as young people. They shared how difficult it was for them to study, because they had to come from school and their parents had them selling articles or anything. Some of them talked about other issues and why it was important that the voices of young people should be heard.

So, there I was seeing these young people speaking for themselves. It became such a big hit in Port au Prince, and this inspired me to create collaborations with students in Nigeria.


YJ: What would be the role of youth as partners for the promotion of Media and Information Literacy?

CO: Young people are integral part of this process. This is a world of young people, more than half of the population of the world is made up of young people. Also this is a technological world, a world in which young people have become used to a new way of life. This is a world of media and communication and technology. Young people were born into this platform, so to say. So it is their world, they own it, and its very important that they take advantage of it, that's what Media and Information Literacy seeks to do.

There is the concern that we don't hear the voices of young people, or that young people are not taken into consideration in decisions that will be of benefits to them. I think that tells us we haven’t done enough in promoting Media and Information Literacy.

It is important for young people to be able to create content for media, to make their voices heard.


YJ: Some developing countries still have high illiteracy rates, so Media and Information Literacy is still not a national priority for many. What are some challenges that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) initiatives could face regarding new national policies?

CO: It is a challenge, but it's a challenge we have to deal with, and governments know the consequences of ignorance. They must understand that Media and Information Literacy goes hand in hand; if we push for MIL, we are pushing for regular literacy.  Media are an essential part of the learning process. It’s the new learning process that comes with technology. Even when the governments are developing new policies for rural communities, they have to integrate MILs. It is an integrated system; you cannot make a distinction anymore. The way people learn has changed and therefore in making plans for education they have to take into consideration the new learning tools and environments.


YJ: Why are partnerships so important for MIL?

CO: Partnerships are important, because there is a need for collaboration.  Some countries have become very fragile in terms of MIL so we need partnerships for knowledge sharing, and reproducing success stories. We need to learn from each other. In some situations you don't have to reinvent the will, you just have to work together. We live in a global village, in terms of integration, so it is important to see the benefits of helping each other. 


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