AN initiative to combat fake news and disinformation on social media will be conducted in the Asean region.
An inter-regional team from Malaysia, the Philippines and Cambodia will be running a boot camp to deepen the understanding of the importance of media and information literacy (MIL) in a fast-moving, digital media landscape among teachers from these countries, and Indonesia and Thailand who are passionate about building a well-informed and resilient society.
With over 400 million people in the South-East Asian region accessing the Internet, the battle to fight fake news and false information is arduous. Sick people who are scared to seek professional help have died from consuming off-label medications; vulnerable groups have been targeted by hate speech; while political propagandists have pitted supporters against one another. MIL is crucial for developing the life and work skills necessary for the 21st century. It is one of the tools that can be used to stop radicalisation, stop hate speech online, and enable individuals to recognise, and defend themselves against, political propaganda.
MIL competencies help us to better understand the messages that we are receiving. It emphasises critical thinking skills that enable consumers to develop independent judgements about media content and should be included in the school curriculum to better combat misinformation and disinformation. The MIL for Asean Network, now a Unesco MIL Alliance, and one of the primary drivers of MIL in South-East Asia, strives to empower teachers across the region to integrate MIL components into the schools’ curriculum.
With funding from the United States State Department through the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund 2022, the co-founders of MIL for Asean Network, Wong Lai Cheng (Malaysia) and Melinda Quiñones (Philippines) will work with Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (Cambodia), Seameo Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics (Malaysia), Seameo Regional Open Learning Centre (Indonesia), Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Centro Escolar University (Philippines), and Rangsit University (Thailand) to run the Asean Teachers MIL Boot Camp next month.
The theme for the boot camp, “MIL: Building Resilience for the Futures of Learning”, is timely with the drastic increase in the spread of disinformation and online scams during Covid-19.The boot camp is targeted at schoolteachers and teacher educators, administrators or education officers from public and private schools and teacher training institutions.
The project aims to expand the participants’ knowledge and competencies to integrate MIL across the curriculum and develop the critical thinking skills of students so that they can actively engage with different segments of society.
Participants will have opportunities to participate in intensive seminars and discussions on topics related to MIL, such as strategies to counter media misinformation and disinformation in a modern classroom, fact-checking, strategies to develop student digital detectives in a post-truth era, data privacy and protection, Internet safety, and deep fakes detection.
“The goal is to provide opportunities for teachers and teacher educators to discuss and address critical issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, misperceptions, and information disorder in the media.
“Teachers must be well trained to empower students with the necessary competencies to critically understand the ethical issues surrounding the access and use of information from all forms of media.
“It is therefore important to take a healthy approach to the information disseminated in the media, a skill that should be practised from elementary school onwards,” Wong said in a press release.