DW Akademie and its partners are using their expertise to teach young people Media and Information Literacy (MIL) during the pandemic. Vital information is now going viral.
For young people, mobile phones offer a window to the world. But with the ongoing pandemic and – in many countries – the resulting lockdowns, curfews, and school closures, children and young people are more active in social media than ever. As a result, they are increasingly subjected to fake news.
"MIL goes viral" is a DW Akademie project that's part of "Transparency and media freedom – Crisis resilience in the global pandemic", a new initiative by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
DW Akademie's goal is to provide children and young people with attractive, innovative and digital learning opportunities around Media and Information Literacy (MIL). "We want to give everybody a unique experience with all their senses," says Hania Bitar, director of PYALARA. The Palestinian non-governmental organization is a key partner in the project and promotes MIL activities in the Palestinian Territories.
"MIL goes viral" knows no borders: young people in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Guatemala are also learning how to critically assess news reports and counter misinformation and disinformation. The project is special in that it involves the target group right from the start. They are included in designing, developing and testing the product and shaping the final result.
With DW Akademie support, PYALARA is building a media literacy center in Jaba, a small village in the West Bank. The center is not just unique in the Palestinian Territories, but in the entire Middle East, as well. It will be equipped with the latest interactive technologies that make learning fun. It focuses on four topics: hate speech, cyberbullying, digital security and disinformation. Consuming media in a skillful way means being able to critically question content, but it also means being able to create content yourself. As a result, visitors can try their hand at presenting news and, in workshops, learn about journalism and how to produce social media videos themselves.
However, the center is currently closed due to pandemic restrictions. That makes it even more important that media skills spread faster than disinformation. "MIL goes viral" will also be making targeted use of messaging apps. Hania Bitar of PYALARA knows how to inspire young people to use social media in a responsible way: "They will learn even more having plenty of fun," she says.