Young people from across The Gambia have expressed their commitment to embark on awareness campaigns to sensitize their constituents and societies on how to access, critically assess, consume and use media and information.

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

The course examined the nature, functions and vulnerability of the media and other sources of information. The different forms of information disorders and how to counter them were discussed. Civic participation using media and information skills was discussed to promote participant engagement in national discourse.

Prior to the training, participants were engaged in community participation, but the training equipped them to broaden their reach using mass media channels.

One of the participants, Mariama Kinteh from the West Coast Region Regional Youth Committee, affirmed her learning points: “I learned how I can best protect myself against internet damage using a browser. and secure sites. “

Binta LY Touray said that in addition to learning the concepts of disinformation and disinformation, she has learned to protect herself in the online world.

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

All participants expressed their commitment to mainstream MIL into their organizational activities and programs, primarily by reviewing their organization’s mission and mandate to include aspects of MIL. Others want MIL issues to be taken into account in their organization’s communication and advocacy strategy.

Almost all organizations are also committed to working with development partners and funding agencies interested in MIL to seek collaboration to implement their projects and programs.

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

Mamadou Edrisa Njie, Executive Director of GYIN Gambia, noted that there is a lot of misinformation and disinformation widespread in The Gambia due to the low level of literacy and the high penetration rate of smartphones. “Fake news” is mainly shared and propagated on the Internet, especially on social networks.

Alagie Jarju, executive director of the National Youth Council, said the number of people determined to spread 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 Program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (CDM), UNESCO has launched initiatives to improve community media and media and information literacy in The Gambia.