Media literacy education in South Africa can help combat fake news

Cortez Deacetis

On line platforms are replete with examples of wrong details – from WhatsApp messages punting some miraculous overcome for COVID, to social media posts claiming a politician mentioned some thing they didn’t.

It’s significantly prevalent in South Africa. More than 75% of South Africans say they consistently arrive across political information they feel is phony. Eight out of 10 South Africans think that disinformation (or “fake news”) is a issue or a critical problem in the place.

Researchers and plan makers have been doing the job on techniques to counter disinformation for many years. Some policymakers have recommended new laws or pressuring technological innovation firms to do extra. These steps frequently increase the problem of how to balance free speech and regulation.

One more solution is to raise the concentrations of media literacy amid citizens. Media literacy refers to the ability to read through media texts critically, being familiar with the relationship among media and audiences, and being aware of how media output processes work. In distinct sections of the world, exploration has demonstrated that producing individuals far more media literate can support cut down the distribute of disinformation.

We just lately worked with Africa Look at, the major point-checking organisation in Africa, to map out the status of media literacy educating in 5 South African provinces.

In a new report, we describe which media literacy competencies are and are not taught in higher faculties and universities, and what is halting colleges and educators from instructing them.

The research is aspect of a greater project to develop methods for media literacy in the place.

We discovered that South Africa lacks a detailed nationwide media literacy programme. Typically it comes down to personal academics and universities to make learners much more media literate.

Some competencies are taught in diverse topics, these kinds of as daily life orientation, know-how, language, or background. This indicates media literacy content is fragmented, diffused, and confined. Learners are taught how to use the media, how to continue to be secure on the internet and how to develop media content material, but a lot considerably less aim falls on how to simple fact-test and confirm the media.

Only a person of the provinces we surveyed, the Western Cape, attempted to apply a module on on the web basic safety for grades 8 to 12 in 2020 in partnership with Google. Its adoption across colleges was confined since of the COVID outbreak in the very same 12 months.

The examine

Our report is the initially in South Africa to survey educators at each schools and universities about their views on the want to instruct media literacy to fight the distribute of disinformation on line. The results are based mostly on the responses to an on the internet study delivered by 281 educators. We also organised emphasis groups and conducted interviews with policymakers, educators, and media specialists.

We asked them how effective media literacy programmes are, what is currently becoming taught at schools, and what challenges they see in the implementation thereof.
We also explored the electronic capabilities amounts of lecturers and learners, and impediments in the way of broader electronic obtain.

Our investigate found that educators in South Africa agreed with the assertion that news literacy is vital to democracy and that rising the quantity of time put in training media literacy would assist reduce the amount of disinformation circulating in schools (and on line, in normal).

A lifestyle orientation teacher that we talked to claimed educating media literacy was “essential” mainly because

we’re dealing with day to day actual predicaments, and the kids just can’t discover what’s true and what’s phony, simply because they never know it.

All the stakeholders provided in our analyze, from educators at various levels of their vocation to policymakers and specialist media researchers, agreed on the importance of media literacy. But they had various sights on what specifically must be taught.

For case in point, high college educators ended up a lot more inclined to introduce learners to how to use distinctive media gadgets, obtain dependable information and facts resources and be informed of their online behaviour. University lecturers focused extra on how to access and critically appraise facts gleaned from the media.

On line protection also highlighted higher on the listing of significant subjects to go over amid higher school teachers. One motive for this may well be that college students typically confront on line harassment and bullying, “catfishing” (folks using fake on the internet profiles) cons and related difficulties.

Teachers are the initially line of defence when dealing with individuals concerns in colleges. Over 90% of teachers we surveyed mentioned they experienced seen occasions of learners sharing misinformation and rumours as the image down below reveals.

Inequities in entry and bureaucratic processes

We uncovered that media literacy schooling in high university is impeded by several aspects. Of these, inequities in access to electronic devices and on the net assets is the most substantial. Access to the net is probable at most colleges. But access at house is not similarly popular. Since educating media literacy abilities often consists of the use of electronic equipment and accessibility to the world wide web, these inequities are an crucial hurdle.

Other impediments incorporate the bureaucratic procedures surrounding the implementation of new curricula in South African schools, lack of time and materials, and the linguistic diversity across the country’s educational institutions, which would demand the advancement of media literacy materials in diverse languages.

1 ultimate impediment is the lack of instruction of educators on the resources and techniques desired to be media literate. We identified common agreement that not all instructors are properly enough geared up with media literacy competencies. Two in 5 significant faculty lecturers feel they absence the suitable schooling.

Most of the challenges we determined appeared to occur across the five provinces surveyed in the report.

A way forward

We make several recommendations on how to increase the quantity of media literacy taught in South African universities.

Initial, we caution versus 1-measurement-fits-all strategies. These are certain to fall short for the reason that of discrepancies in access and resources across colleges. Care ought to also be taken to establish supplies in the language most typically used by learners. Supplies need to also be age-acceptable and with reference to real lived experiences of the communities in which they will be used.

Next, media literacy educating elements need to have a potent target on mobile phones as cars for shipping, due to their prevalence across the nation.

3rd, given the bureaucratic impediments to creating and rolling out media literacy curricula countrywide, departments of education and learning in each province need to be engaged in media literacy curriculum setting up.

Lastly, involving educators and fact-examining organisations, which are at the forefront of the struggle from disinformation, ought to also be a precedence.

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