International Day for Universal Access to Information
Paris, September 29th, 2017 (UNESCO). 2017 is the second year of UNESCO marking 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI). On 17 November 2015, UNESCO adopted a resolution (38 C/70) declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). IDUAI has particular relevance with the new 2030 Development Agenda, and in particular with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.10 which calls for ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms. The celebration for universal access to information started in Tunisia on 25 September, with a panel event gathering around 250 participants to discuss progress and new initiatives around Tunisia’s Access to Information law. The country’s legislation on access to information is ranked by specialized observers among the “top-ten” best in the world in terms of its adherence to international standards. The event also brought the opportunity to launch a new Swiss-funded UNESCO project, to facilitate coordination among the civil society organizations to implement the right to information law. From 27th to 30th of September 2017, UNESCO in partnership with the Information for All Programme (IFAP) hosts a Conference under the theme “Overcoming Divides and Achieving the SDGs in Africa” in Balaclava, Mauritius. This event consists of plenary sessions, workshops and technical sessions. It brings together high-level participants from all of the 54 African countries including Presidents/Prime Ministers, Ministers for Information and Communication and Ambassadors to UNESCO. On 28th of September 2017, the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) hosted the second whole-day event “IPDCtalks: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information” in UNESCO Headquearters, Paris, France. The 'IPDCtalks' was held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It consisted of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, prominent journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. Also, UNESCO Field Offices in many countries around the world together with local authorities and civil society commemorated #AccessToInfoDay by organizing workshops, conferences and public activities including marches and concerts in order to both discuss and raise awareness about freedom of information, the promotion of open access and the importance of adopting the right to information laws. These targeted and widespread activities ensure that the day of 28th September is used to engage citizens and public authorities as to the importance of the right to information for human existence at both local and global levels. UNESCO hopes that the marking of 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” will provide for more countries adopting FOI legislation, developing policies for multilingualism and cultural diversity in the cyberspace, and ensuring that women and men with disabilities are integrated. These steps will further strengthen progress towards the 2030 Development agenda and pave the way for the creation of knowledge societies worldwide.
SIGNIS member opens educational centre
Lebanon, September, 25th, 2017 (SAT 7). As SAT-7’s educational shows provide more than a million children with a brighter future, a hands-on new project is planned to make the impact even greater. The new social and cultural centre in Lebanon will offer a life-changing curriculum for refugee children, based around SAT-7 programming. For the first time SAT-7, as a media ministry, has decided to take a new approach to helping its viewers, by setting up the SAT-7 social and cultural centre, in Lebanon. The objective is to provide refugee children and families a place to receive alternative education and support for their educational and personal needs. Through this approach, SAT-7 hopes to learn first-hand about the needs of refugee families and to be able to improve on its programming as a result. The stakes could not be higher As Nicoletta Michael, SAT-7’s projects manager, explains, “the ultimate aim of a humanitarian response should be to empower people to return and restore their country.” Educational, psychological, and cultural support for families play a vital part in making this possible. This kind of response also helps protect refugees and their children from falling victim to sexual violence, recruitment into fighting forces, prostitution, and other life-destroying threats. SAT-7’s new social and cultural centre will open in the mountain town of Ehden, Lebanon, which is home to both Syrian and Iraqi refugee families. Using SAT-7 shows, including the on-air school program My school, the centre will provide year-round alternative education for 75 refugee and underprivileged children aged 5–8. It will also offer emotional support and informal lessons in hygiene, cooking, and gardening, as well as fun activities. Parents and caregivers will benefit from education, support, and family activities, and the centre will also provide teacher training. Reaching those who are left out The centre’s support is aimed at vulnerable children who are missing out on other educational opportunities, or who may be struggling with illiteracy, learning difficulties, or psychological trauma. The isolated location, where residents are often trapped by snowy winter conditions, also contributes to families missing out on support. “We chose this area because we saw there was a need in the community,” Nicoletta explains. “other NGOs had come and left, but the need was still there. SAT-7 has always strived to reach people who are left out. Those behind closed doors, those who are forgotten, or those who do not have access.” The facilitators will be trained to deal with challenging behaviour and to recognise and address underlying trauma. Spending time with the youngsters during a healthy breakfast and lunch will help staff identify children’s needs, so they may benefit fully from the educational programs.