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Media and Information literacy: An Urgent Need for India

With billions of kilobytes of information being shared via social media and messaging applications each day, it is impossible to stem the tide of disinformation and misinformation. Now it is high time we must imbibe the quality of information where perplexity and bewildering choices of messaging network always present.

With billions of kilobytes of information being shared via social media and messaging applications each day, it is impossible to stem the tide of disinformation and misinformation. Now it is high time we must imbibe the quality of information where perplexity and bewildering choices of messaging network always present.  In such an environment it is essential to sanitize the “Not to sensationalize the misinformation and disinformation”. As a responsible citizen of India, I always worried about the fake news, propaganda and its impact that is almost uprooting the mind of the teenager and youth.

With the advancement of Science and Technology, we human beings are so concerned about Virus-Infection and its aftereffect on the body. Our Conscious level goes to an extent that we buy any consumer goods we check the source, its ingredient, its manufacturing and its expiry before consuming it. So, why not there should be a proper sanitization of information so that it can generate healthy and hygienic informed consumers like us. Without any qualms, I am emphatic in saying that the art of creating information and its propagation laced with a certain agenda. The ascent of fake news in the digital world across the political, ideological, economic and social spectrum is a matter of great concern.  People are curious about the fact check of any news or information. Is it enough to accept the quality of information and its originality and the agenda behind the curtain? Keeping such sensitivity in our mind the need of the hour is “Media and Information Literacy”.

Media and Information Literacy initiative in Other Countries and what India can learn from them

A study of Stanford History Education Group found that most of the students were proficient on different social media platforms, but 80% of them can’t distinguish between the paid content and news stories. Sensing out the urgency of Media Literacy Countries like Finland, Canada, Singapore started focusing on developing Critical thinking so that their school kids can determine the fake news and misinformation.

Finland at a glance on Media Literacy

As per the IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) study conducted in the year 2016, 82% of teachers were trained in Finland to “promoting student’s critical and independent thinking”. The module of this teaching method was developed in collaboration with fact-checking organizations. Finland’s School has attempted to develop critical thinking skills among students to counter misinformation, disinformation and propaganda news. The culture of discussion on current thematic issues with students has been developed. They are building a culture wherein questioning and cross-checking are inculcated in day to day life. As a result of this initiative, Finland always ranks in the top three in World’s Media Literacy ranking.

India’s school education that is transparently based on marks, percentage, grade acquiring, the whole school education system largely depends on the completion of syllabus and rote learning. Despite such thematical education system there still limited cognition of the magnitude of this at the administrative level. In addition, since most teachers are not digital native, familiarity with technology is often a major hurdle. As a matter of fact, the prevalent community culture of blindly trusting the printed word mass journalism or even trending WhatsApp forwards largely goes unchallenged. It goes without saying that reformation in the information lies in the foundation of an education system that is the need to incorporate media literacy as an integral part of the curriculum. The initiative can be taken by setting up expert committees to prepare modules for teacher training in the school.  Centre government and state government should recognize a  new teaching module. The culture at the school level should be developed where a student can apply critical think and curiosity to be informed should be duped.

At last, I must say Media Literacy doesn’t mean Media Control hence Honest Media house should collaborate with Schools and colleges to create Media Literacy Workshop. Open digital Media Platform should be encouraged so that biased Media who runs fake news factory should understand a parallel media is going to be run by Media Literate.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by Arshe Alam

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