Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, on Friday launched the 10th Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week, scheduled to take place from October 24 to 31, 2021, to enhance factual information dissemination.
The annual event, which was instituted by UNESCO, would be commemorated globally on the theme: “Media and Information Literacy for the Public Good,” to enhance public education and skills on the effective use of information obtained from the media space.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah acknowledged the hard work over the years by Penplusbytes, a non-governmental organisation, UNESCO and other partners, and said the event was a major occasion for stakeholders to review and celebrate the progress achieved towards MIL for all.
He said with the current exponential rise in disinformation, political polarisation, increasing influence of digital platforms and the COVID-19 pandemic, it had become more crucial to strive for the dissemination of factual, timely, targeted, clear, accessible, multilingual, and science-based information.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said human societies were built on language, information, and communication, hence those data must possess qualities that were true and relevant within the context, and unadulterated, saying “information goes a long way to frame the narrative of society and shape their attitudes”.
He said information literacy was crucial for socio-economic development and the need to build the competences of individuals and societies to be able to analyse data, in whichever form, was key to helping them contribute meaningfully to the growth of the country.
He said advanced democracies had given priority to enhancing the education and skills of their citizenry on the effective sourcing for information and their usage.
The Information Minister said false information, like COVID-19, could kill more people than the pandemic itself, and called for strengthened collaboration by stakeholders in enhancing public education across all sectors to help build the skills of both the media and consumers for better analysis of the information they receive.
He said the Ministry of Information, in its quest to enhance the capacities of media practitioners on quality information dissemination, had instituted the Minister’s Press briefing series and other capacity building programmes for various target groups, particularly the youth.
Ms Juliet Amoah, the Executive Director, Penplusbytes, said the MIL Index showed that the youth, between the ages 15-25, who used smart phones, were on Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, and often faced cyber bullying and other abuses.
She said her organisation had constantly provided training for the youth and others including media practitioners, to provide information that would help protect them from such abuses.
Ms Amoah said activities for the week would include youth engagement dialogues, a road-show and the unveiling of a documentary dubbed; “Rumour Series,” geared towards educating the public on how wrong information shared could negatively impact on society.
There were solidarity messages from the partners including UNESCO Ghana, DW Akademie, the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, and the Ghana Institute of Journalism, who pledged their support to enhancing media and information literacy for all.