25 April 2017

Like many countries in the World, Nigeria is also affected by the menace of hate speech, fake news and  limited  capacity  to  analyse  information  and make  informed  decisions.  This  is  more  challenging in the phase of  rapid evolution in  information  and communication  tools, notably using the Internet and social media platforms.  In addressing this, two major interventions were implemented in Nigeria using Media and Information Literacy – a strategy potent to counter the global trend of   radicalization     and   extremist ideologies  as well as  the proliferation of fake news and hate speeches.

The first intervention was the organization of a National Workshop on the adaptation of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Curriculum into  Nigerian Universities. It was hosted by Lagos State University in collaboration with UNESCO and the University Twinning Network (UNITWIN) on April 25 – 26, 2017 with  the theme: “Enhancing intercultural dialogue competencies through media and information literacy curriculum in Nigerian universities”.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Suraj O Adekunle, UNESCO UNITWIN National Coordinator and Sub-Dean, School Communication, Lagos State University indicated the timeliness of the theme of the workshop and insisted that: “in increasingly complex multicultural societies, education must enable us to acquire the intercultural competencies   that   will   permit   us to  live   together despite cultural differences. We need MIL in our curriculum among other things; to enhance education outcomes by equipping citizens with competencies necessary to participate fully in political, economic, and social life. ”

Justifying the need for MIL inclusion into Nigerian curriculum, Mr Macaulay Olushola, UNESCO Officer for Communication and Information, observed that the youths quest for knowledge has gone beyond reading and  writing  skills,  and  needed  a  necessary  tool  that will enable them in analyzing, understanding and using effectively the deluge of information they receive today.

In this same vein, UNESCO Regional Office Abuja supported the University of Jos in organizing a workshop on MIL, which was held from the 7th to 9th of June

2017 at the University premises, focusing on the theme “Tackling Religious Extremism and Counter Terrorism through Media and Information Literacy”, and drawing participants from civil society, religious organizations, youth, secondary schools, academia, journalists and the public.

In his Goodwill Message, the Regional Director of UNESCO Mr, Ydo Yao, represented by  Ms.  Yachat  Nuhu, emphasized the importance of social dialogue and the need to empower the new generation on the effect of digital   evolution.   Representing   the   Vice-Chancellor, the Head of  the  Department  of  Foreign  Languages, Dr.  (Mrs.) Nora Dadu’ut, acknowledge UNESCO for her commitment towards attaining a media literate society.

The workshop featured high level presentations, that includes “Information Literacy as a proactive measure in combating internet radicalization and extremism among the youth”, by Dr. Ismail Ibraheem, “Respecting the culture  and  religious  sensitivities  of  people”,  by Prof. U.H.D Danfulani, “ICT as a tool for economic empowerment”,  by  Dr.  Stephen  Akintunde and “The relevance of MIL in school curriculum”, by Dr. Suraj Olunifesi. They contributed   to creating awareness on the increasing level of global religious extremism and terrorism and its implication to communities in Nigeria and the world at large.