UNESCO partner PTCIJ trains young Gambian leaders in media literacy

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Ahead of the December 4 presidential election, the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) trained 40 young community leaders in The Gambia in media and information literacy.

The three-day training, supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel from November 29 to December 1.

Welcoming participants from youth-focused civil society organizations (CSOs), Acting Executive Director of PTCIJ, Tobi Oluwatola, emphasized the importance of media and information literacy in the Gambia’s attempt to nurture its fledgling democracy.

“As The Gambia prepares for its first post-Jammeh general elections aimed at consolidating the country’s nascent democracy, there is a need to enable media users to access and use information with caution. Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a prerequisite for democratic participation and the preservation of freedom of expression,” he said.

The training included sessions on Democracy and Information Literacy, Freedom of Information and Expression, Verification and Fact-Checking, Opportunities and Challenges of the Internet, among others.

At different times, participants also participated in group work to gauge their understanding of the sessions and assess plans for spreading the knowledge gained.

Ajie Sonko, president of the Gambian Ladies Organization, said the training sessions helped her understand the information ecosystem.

“I did a lot in those sessions that we had,” she said. “I’ve learned things that I’ve never known. I’ve learned things like types of information disorders… misinformation, misinformation and misinformation. I think that’s very crucial in our environment because information moves the world forward and when there is an information mess in any country, there is no way for the country to move forward.

Ms. Sonko promised to spread what she learned to members of her organization and others.

“When I go I’m not going to be selfish and keep what I’ve learned to myself, I’m going to make sure I teach people in my organization what I’ve learned and not just them, I’ll do everything I can to share with my immediate society. Whenever my organization undertakes outreach activities in rural areas, I will ensure that we teach people about media and information literacy,” he said. she declared.

Likewise, Joe Bongay, executive director of Young Volunteers for the Environment, said he learned a lot from the sessions.

“Over the past three days, we have learned very good knowledge about fact-checking, how to identify fake news… which is very important for my organization and in the process of our development work. The Gambia is still in the process of gradual transformation and I think this training is timely. It will help engage young people in the democratization of The Gambia which is still young. Democracy is still poorly understood by many people, this kind of training will help us filter the issue of democracy through communication to local populations and local development partners in order to collectively understand, respect and apply it. which will help us grow as a nation,” he said.

The Gambia, the smallest country on the African continent, will go to the polls on Saturday to elect a president. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) cleared six candidates for the election, the first since dictator Yahya Jammeh fled the country in 2017.

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