By Kuni Tyessi
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has tasked youths, especially students of tertiary institutions to deploy the benefits of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) skills to counter false information and promote positive information that will promote social inclusion and national cohesion.
In a two-day webinar, organised by African Centre for Media Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) with the theme ‘Building the Capacity for Youths and Students in Tertiary Institutions to Promote Peace, Intercultural Dialogue and Democratic Decision Making’, the West Africa Regional Director, Dr. Claus Dieter Konig, said Nigerian students have lived through harsh policies and under-funding of the education system, which has given rise to a series of strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the attendant disruption of the academic calendar in universities.
Konig, who was represented by the Programme Manager, Ms. Angela Odah, added that it is important to develop the capacity of youths so as to deploy the benefits of MIL skills towards countering false information and promoting positive information which will promote social inclusion and national cohesion.
He said Nigerian youths that were hitherto tagged “lazy youths” seem to have braced up to play the role of ensuring that political leaders and government agencies are held accountable for the polices they produce in the governance of the country.
“Historically, Nigerian youths have been in the forefront of the struggle for democratization of the society, and of decision making in Nigeria’s institutions of higher learning. This can be seen in the NANs Charter of Demands produced by the then vibrant national student body in the early 1980s.
“The #EndSARS protests have used the power of the social media to raise awareness, build solidarity and highlight the crimes and gross violations of human rights and dignity of Nigerians by disgruntled elements with the law enforcement agency.
“Youths have historically played vital role in the transformation of societies.”
In his remarks, the Coordinator, AFRICMIL, Dr. Chido Onumah emphasised that MIL skills are sets of competencies that provide young people in a world of expanding information and communication technology with the ability to navigate the media, produce media, understand and critically assess information and media messages and apply them in their interpersonal and community relationship.
He said the intervention is planned to provide youths the opportunity to understand and deal with contemporary issues in a way that is responsible, informed, inclusive and effective as a way of ensuring unity, peace and progress in Nigeria.
“In the last decade, the rapid development of new communication technologies has created unprecedented opportunities for media and information users around the world. Digital media has significantly facilitated access to information, allowing a wider range of individuals around the world, including Nigeria to not only consume news at a faster pace, but also produce news at the same speed.
“For youths who make up a vital segment of the country’s population, the news media and the internet provide a window to the rest of the world. They provide tremendous opportunities, but also carry some risks. MIL helps youths take advantage of the opportunities, while safely avoiding the risks.
“This intervention is targeted at youths and students who are catalyst of change and considered an important social category that can help drive any progressive ideas and objectives forward.”
He added that the future of democracy in Nigeria lies greatly on the shoulders of youths, whose energy, knowledge and approach to governance will help in promoting social and peaceful co-existence in the country.