Media Development Center wins 2021 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development

Birzeit University’s Media Development Center (MDC) has been awarded the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development for their project, “Media and Information Literacy for Sustainable Communities,” as announced by the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science on November 15, 2021.

Dr. Dawas Dawas, the secretary general of the commission, congratulated Birzeit University and its community in his announcement of the prize’s winners, noting that the MDC’s project was chosen, along with two other initiatives from Ghana and Peru, from a group of 113 nominations by institutions and governments in 54 countries.

“The university’s project stood out among all submissions, as it seeks to spur social change in Palestine and develop media and information literacy through practical learning, dialogue, and cooperation,” Dawas said.

The MDC’s project focuses on the role of media in encouraging Palestinian youth to effect positive change in their communities through a mix of practical, hands-on training and constructive, critical dialogue, helping young men and women become more active citizens in their societies and beyond.

Dr. Beshara Doumani, president of Birzeit University, lauded the center’s achievement, stressing that the winning project directly reflects Birzeit University’s goals, through which it promotes dialogue and seeks to incorporate Palestinian youth in knowledge production locally and internationally. These goals, he noted, go beyond the university campus, affecting the Palestinian society as a whole.

“We have absolute faith in the ability of Palestinian youth to bring about change, despite the Israeli occupation’s continued efforts to limit any and all development efforts in Palestine, such as restricting the ability of Palestinian universities to engage in academic and cultural exchange  with regional and international institutions,” Doumani said. The Media Development Center’s achievement, he added, should be celebrated because it was able to win a highly competitive international award while the country was not only suffering from the impact of COVID-19, but also facing the continuous colonial practices of the Israeli occupation that hinder the development of education across all levels in Palestine.  

Emad Alasfar, director of the Media Development Center, said that the award will help the center continue its mission of developing media education and raising information literacy in Palestine to empower marginalized communities with the skills to participate in public life.

The three winners of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development were selected by an independent international jury, and they will receive an award of US $50,000 each.  The main selection criteria were the projects’ potential for transformation, their innovative quality and their ability to embrace all three dimensions of sustainability: the economy, the society and the environment.