Media literacy education in SA can help combat fake news

On line platforms are replete with examples of bogus info – from WhatsApp messages punting some miraculous cure for Covid-19, to social media posts boasting a politician reported something they did not.

It is progressively common in South Africa. Much more than 75% of South Africans say they often appear throughout political information they consider is fake. Eight out of 10 South Africans consider that disinformation (or “fake news”) is a trouble or a severe problem in the place.

Researchers and policy makers have been doing work on methods to counter disinformation for many years. Some policymakers have recommended new laws or pressuring technology companies to do a lot more. These actions normally elevate the query of how to harmony free of charge speech and regulation.

One more possibility is to increase the amounts of media literacy among the citizens. Media literacy refers to the means to read media texts critically, understanding the relationship concerning media and audiences, and recognizing how media manufacturing procedures do the job. In diverse pieces of the environment, investigate has shown that making persons extra media literate can support lower the spread of disinformation.

We a short while ago worked with Africa Check out, the major simple fact-checking organisation in Africa, to map out the status of media literacy instructing in five South African provinces.

In a new report, we explain which media literacy abilities are and are not taught in superior colleges and universities, and what is halting faculties and educators from educating them.

The exploration is portion of a larger task to build methods for media literacy in the region.

We uncovered that South Africa lacks a comprehensive countrywide media literacy programme. Often it comes down to specific lecturers and faculties to make learners additional media literate.

Some capabilities are taught in various topics, such as lifestyle orientation, technologies, language, or background. This means media literacy written content is fragmented, diffused, and limited. Learners are taught how to use the media, how to remain protected online and how to create media material, but substantially fewer emphasis falls on how to fact-check and confirm the media.

Only one of the provinces we surveyed, the Western Cape, tried to employ a module on online basic safety for grades 8 to 12 in 2020 in partnership with Google. Its adoption throughout schools was limited simply because of the Covid-19 outbreak in the similar calendar year.

The study

Our report is the initial in South Africa to survey educators at the two educational institutions and universities about their sights on the require to teach media literacy to beat the spread of disinformation online. The conclusions are based on the responses to an on the net survey delivered by 281 educators. We also organised concentration teams and carried out interviews with policymakers, educators, and media experts.

We questioned them how productive media literacy programmes are, what is currently remaining taught at educational facilities, and what troubles they see in the implementation thereof. We also explored the digital skills concentrations of academics and learners, and impediments in the way of broader electronic obtain.

Our investigation discovered that educators in South Africa agreed with the statement that information literacy is vital to democracy and that escalating the amount of money of time used training media literacy would enable minimize the volume of disinformation circulating in faculties (and on the net, in general).

A everyday living orientation instructor that we talked to mentioned educating media literacy was “essential” since

we’re dealing with day to day genuine cases, and the young ones just cannot detect what’s genuine and what is phony, mainly because they never know it.

All the stakeholders provided in our examine, from educators at different ranges of their vocation to policymakers and professional media scientists, agreed on the great importance of media literacy. But they had unique sights on what exactly should be taught.

For example, substantial faculty educators have been more inclined to introduce learners to how to use various media equipment, locate trusted data resources and be informed of their on the web conduct. University lecturers centered extra on how to entry and critically assess facts gleaned from the media.

Online safety also featured significant on the record of vital topics to address amongst high faculty instructors. One motive for this could possibly be that pupils often face on the internet harassment and bullying, ‘catfishing’ (folks making use of wrong on the web profiles) scams and similar problems.

Academics are the very first line of defence when dealing with those people concerns in faculties. More than 90% of lecturers we surveyed reported they had found situations of learners sharing misinformation and rumours as the graphic underneath reveals.

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Inequities in accessibility and bureaucratic processes

We found that media literacy education in higher faculty is impeded by various factors. Of these, inequities in entry to electronic products and on the internet resources is the most significant. Accessibility to the net is probable at most colleges. But access at residence is not equally prevalent. For the reason that instructing media literacy abilities usually will involve the use of electronic gadgets and obtain to the net, these inequities are an essential hurdle.

Other impediments consist of the bureaucratic procedures surrounding the implementation of new curricula in South African faculties, lack of time and resources, and the linguistic variety across the country’s educational institutions, which would have to have the development of media literacy supplies in diverse languages.

A single last impediment is the deficiency of education of educators on the applications and expertise required to be media literate. We identified widespread arrangement that not all instructors are effectively sufficient outfitted with media literacy competencies. Two in five significant university lecturers assume they absence the proper schooling. //datawrapper.dwcdn.internet/a3PUE/1/

Most of the issues we identified appeared to take place throughout the 5 provinces surveyed in the report.

A way forward

We make many tips on how to enhance the sum of media literacy taught in South African universities.

Initially, we caution from just one-measurement-matches-all approaches. These are bound to fall short due to the fact of variations in obtain and resources across schools. Care must also be taken to produce materials in the language most frequently utilized by learners. Materials must also be age-appropriate and with reference to genuine lived encounters of the communities where they will be employed.

Next, media literacy teaching resources must have a robust concentration on mobile telephones as cars for shipping and delivery, owing to their prevalence throughout the country.

3rd, supplied the bureaucratic impediments to building and rolling out media literacy curricula countrywide, departments of education in every single province should really be engaged in media literacy curriculum arranging.

At last, involving educators and reality-examining organisations, which are at the forefront of the fight towards disinformation, must also be a precedence.


Dani Madrid-Morales, Lecturer in Journalism, College of Sheffield and Herman Wasserman, Professor of Media Research in the Centre for Film and Media Scientific studies, University of Cape City

This article is republished from The Discussion less than a Imaginative Commons license. Read through the primary article.


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