New literacies program promotes more equal media and digital literacy

New Literacies development programme (2020-2023, Uudet lukutaidot in Finnish) aims to strengthen the media literacy, ICT competence and programming skills of children and young people in ECEC and pre-primary and basic education. The New Literacies development programme is part of the wider Right to Learn development programme (2020–2022) of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

During the programme, a set of descriptions were created in order to to promote the realisation of equity when teaching digital skills and competence to children and young people. The descriptions build on the national core curricula for ECEC, pre-primary education and basic education and are intended as support material for teachers in planning and implementing teaching and in drawing up and updating the local curricula. The descriptions have been drawn up by teachers and other experts in the New Literacies development programme.

The descriptions are tested and developed during the programme. Local development projects are implemented in ECEC, pre-primary education and basic education as part of the development programme. In 2021, the Ministry of Education and Culture awarded a grant to 46 project municipalities for building operating models that develop the digital skills of children and young people during the school year 2021–2022. In summer 2022, the Ministry awarded new grants to a total of 111 providers of ECEC, pre-primary education and basic education.

In the development programme, the National Audiovisual Institute in responsible for the entity of media literacy and programming skills, and the Finnish National Agency for Education for the entity of ICT competence.

How media literacy is promoted in the program?

Media literacy is the skill to use, understand and evaluate media contents and the skill to produce them. In addition, media literacy includes the skill to operate in media environments.

In the New literacies development programme, the part of media literacy is divided into these three main areas. The main areas are based on the overview presented in the National core curriculum for early childhood education and care (2018), the National core curriculum for pre-primary Education (2014) and the National core curriculum for basic education (2014).

The main areas also correspond to the general understanding of the main areas of media literacy. Media literacy is part of multiliteracy and other tranversal competences as well as part of the learning areas, learning modules and subjects. The three main areas of media literacy are further divided into sub-areas in which the competence descriptions form themes ranging from early childhood education and care all the way to the end of comprehensive school. Understanding the descriptions of media literacy is easier with a perception of the key concepts.

Media broadly means media contents, the devices communicating them, the environments formed by them or the parties producing them, the media industry. In the descriptions, the concept of media is used to refer to several of these meanings. Media contents refer to media presentations in accordance with the broad definition of text. Media devices refer to equipment that is used to produce or communicate media contents. The media also form environments in which people can operate. The media industry consists of all of the organisations, institutions and parties that produce and communicate media contents and devices.

Text: KAVI and OPH, New literacies teams