UNESCO Myanmar discusses Media and Information Literacy solutions for intercultural-dialogue and countering hate-speech and misinformation

Myanmar girls using a tablet @szefei/shutterstock

UNESCO Myanmar discusses Media and Information Literacy solutions for intercultural-dialogue and countering hate-speech and misinformation

UNESCO Myanmar with support from the Kingdom of Sweden recently organized the Workshop on “Media and Information Literacy (MIL): Strategies for Myanmar” to discuss how to apply MIL competencies in intercultural communication and interfaith dialogue, two pressing issues facing Myanmar today. Also discussed was MIL as a defense against misinformation and hate speech.

The workshop was held on 29-30 March 2018 in Yangon and was attended by a total of 58 representatives of government (including Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Home Affairs), the academia, civil society organizations, and media.

At the end of the workshop, participants proposed a series of strategies for integrating or mainstreaming MIL in their current programs, activities and advocacy work. Among their recommendations was that MIL could be integrated in “non-traditional” areas such as corporate governance, anti-human trafficking, peacebuilding, and community safety and security.

Mr. Ramon R. Tuazon, lead resource person and co-author of the UNESCO-published Media and Information Literacy: Curriculum for Teachers, discussed MIL as a composite concept and highlighted the importance of developing a critical lens in dealing with media representation – or how media and information providers “represent” or package individuals, groups, and ideas into certain ideological biases resulting in stereotyping and prejudices. He pointed out that representation has impact on intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and that misrepresentation can promote hate speech.

The workshop also addressed hate speech in the context of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, with emphasis on the value of press freedom in a democratic society. He highlighted the difficult balancing act involved in regulating hate speech as this may lead to curtailment of freedom of expression.

Participants at the workshop during one of the exercises

During the workshop, participants had the chance to learn from successful MIL initiatives carried out in Myanmar by different organizations such as Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF), and Phandeeyar.

This workshop is part of the consultations and capacity building activities that UNESCO is implementing in Myanmar to develop strategies and implement MIL initiatives in the country across different sectors and in collaboration with the Government, CSOs and the media.

UNESCO Myanmar Office has published the Myanmar translation of “Media and Information Literacy: Curriculum for Teachers” which was distributed in the workshop and can also be accessed here.