Gambian youth express commitment to embark on sensitization on MIL

Young people from across The Gambia have expressed their commitment to embark on sensitization campaigns to make their constituents and societies aware of how to access, critically evaluate, consume and use media and information.

This commitment was made at the end of a three-day training on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) for 40 young people from national and regional youth associations in The Gambia.  Held from 20th to 22nd December, the training was organized by UNESCO Dakar and delivered by the Global Youth Innovation Network Gambia Chapter (GYIN Gambia) through the Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP).

The course examined the nature, functions and vulnerability of the media and other information sources.  The various forms of information disorder and how to counter them was addressed. Civic participation using media and information literacy skills was discussed to promote participants’ engagement in national discourse.

Prior to the training, participants had been engaged in community participation but the training has equipped them to expand their scope by engaging the use of mass media channels.

One of the participants, Mariama Kinteh from the Regional Youth Committee of West Coast Region affirmed her learning points: “I have learned about how best I can secure myself from being harmed on the Internet by using safe browser and sites

“I will advocate for similar training to be organized by young people at regional level and I am committed to conducting stepdown training so as to further share the knowledge with more young people.” – Mrs Mariama Kinteh, Regional Youth Committee of West Coast Region

Binta L.Y Touray said in addition to learning about the concepts of misinformation and disinformation, she learned how to protect herself in the online world.

“The most amazing part of the experience is how to counter or verify fake news and Photoshop image using TinEye, Google Reverse Image, and as well as privacy protected websites like DuckDuckGo and TOR Browser” – Ms Binta L.Y Touray

Ms Touray intended to use what she learned at the training to protect herself online and also to share the knowledge with fellow young people.

All the participants expressed commitment to mainstream MIL into their organizational activities and programs, mainly by revisiting their organisation’s mission and mandate to include aspects of MIL.  Others want to have issues of MIL captured in their organisation’s communications and advocacy strategy.

Almost all the organisations also vowed to working with development partners and funding agencies that are interested in MIL to seek collaboration to implement their projects and programs.

One of the trainers, Dr Morolake Omowumi Adekunle, pointed out that given the degree of information disorder in The Gambia and the need to promote civic participation among the youth, it is very timely that youth associations are encouraged to go into MIL.

“Young people need to be equipped with skills on media and information by strengthening their ability to source for information, assess the information and use the information to address individuals and societal needs.” – Dr Morolake Omowumi Adekunle, trainer

Mamadou Edrisa Njie, executive director of GYIN Gambia, noted that there is lot of disinformation and misinformation spread in The Gambia because of the low level of literacy and the high smartphone penetration rate.  The so-called ‘fake news’ is mainly shared and propagated on the internet, particularly on the social media.

Alagie Jarju, executive director of National Youth Council, said the number of people hell bent on spreading fake news might be small, but the spread is very fast and powerful, and the potential impact of the spread could be catastrophic.

Through the Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP), UNESCO has been embarking on initiatives to improve community media and media and information literacy in The Gambia.