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.