By Awa Macalo
Patrick Mc Carthy, peace and development advisor, office of the UN Resident Coordinator, has said The Gambia skipped 35 places from 85 to 50 in press freedom index.
In The Gambia, he said, social media has experienced exponential growth in size and importance, and has significantly transformed politics and power relations.
“With the fall of the previous regime, which heavily policed social media, citizens now feel free to express their opinion without facing any reprisals from the government. This new era of press freedom is evidenced by the recent Global Press Freedom Index, published annually by Reporters without Borders, which showed that the Gambia jumped 35 places from 85 to 50 out of 180 countries.”
He made this remark in a three-day training on media and information literacy for youth leaders in the Gambia, organized by Unesco in partnership with Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism in Nigeria.
Mr. Patrick further explained that the three-day training is part of a UN PeaceBuilding Fund project entitled “Young Women and Men as Stakeholders in Ensuring Peaceful Democratic Processes and as Advocates for the Prevention of Violence and Hate Speech” that is being implemented by UNESCO, UNDP and UNFPA in collaboration with the Government of The Gambia.
“The project seeks to address the institutional barriers for young people, strengthen youth capacity for engagement and participation in governance and leadership, address hate speech and counter fake news and misinformation”
It is also aimed at improving youth participation in governance and peaceful democratic processes and strengthening their capacities as advocates against hate speech and as agents of conflict prevention.
“Media and information literacy is globally recognized as an educational area that needs to be promoted, particularly when aiming at building understanding between individuals from different religious and cultural backgrounds.
This training is designed to equip you, youth leaders, with a range of competencies that will allow you to seek, critically evaluate and contribute to information online and offline.
Competency in media and information literacy will provide you the knowhow to participate ethically in public debate, counter hate speech, and debunk fake news. Such skills are essential for constructive civic participation in a democratic process,” Patrick said.
Caroline Anipah, head, verification, and media literacy Dubawa, said the training is significant in developing great youth leaders to enhance their understanding on media and information literacy, and its importance and relevance to democracy and good governance.
“Media and information literacy is very crucial for democratic participation and preserving the freedom of expression,” she said.