Youth Power against Mis- and Dis-Information on COVID-19

09/07/2020
Abuja (Virtual), Nigeria
16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Young people, a substantial part of the population all over the world, are great potential in redefining the perception and landscape of communication with their power of influence. In this recognition, UNESCO Abuja Office organized a webinar on Youth Power in Combating Mis- and Disinformation during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond on Jun 30th, 2020 to discuss how the young people can use their exceptional creativity and innovation to develop feasible schemes for promoting a literate society.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media landscape continues to witness uncertainty, worsen with the proliferation of the social media usage. The period has brought serious unprecedented and frustrating communication challenges, creating fear and insecurity around the continent. As stated by Mr. Mohamed O. Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs of Sierra Leone, the current pandemic response in Africa should explore the power of the youth who are full of technological and innovative ideas that could disrupt traditional thinking and modes of addressing the pandemic and other health emergencies. 

Young people are the engine and creativity of African future.

Mr. Mohamed O. Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs of Sierra Leone

In the same vein, the survey report, Perception of COVID-19 Communication in West Africa (non-Sahel) conducted by UNESCO Abuja Office within the year, also found out that young people are one of the most active groups of population on different media platforms. They are not only recipients of information, but that their creativity can contribute immensely to the fight against mis- and disinformation.

© UNESCO

In May 2020 under the Media and Information Literacy thematic, UNESCO Abuja Office launched the campaign of Call for Jingles. The campaign was designed to encourage young women and men to identify and leverage their creativity and innovation to combat mis- and disinformation on COVID-19. As part of the activities at the webinar, the top 15 winners of the call for jingles were announced, while the jingles of the top five positions were displayed to the audience. According to one of the winners, information is shifting the perception of COVID-19 itself, and only correcting the dis- and misinformation, creating reliable access to accurate information will develop a literate communication landscape for the public.

The webinar as well as the survey and Call for Jingles campaign were designed under the overarching framework of Media and Information Literacy. As introduced by Dr Carolyn Wilson, past Chair of Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information (GAPMIL) from Canada, “Since 2011, UNESCO has launched an international, regional, and national interventions on Media and Information Literacy (MIL). “It recognizes the primary role of information and media in everyday lives and includes contents focusing on critically evaluating the information. “More substantially, during the COVID-19 pandemic, MIL is gradually becoming a useful tool for channeling accurate and reliable information to the vast population.”

Beatrice and Daniel, two youth ambassadors from GAPMIL (Brazil and Nigeria respectively), also discussed the relationship between youth bulge and establishment of a peaceful society and the establishment of youth alliance of media and information literacy. They further reiterated how the young people around the world could provide feasible and practical solutions in combating mis- and disinformation with their creativity and innovation.

© UNESCO

To further expand the impact induced by the young people and as one of the key outcomes of the webinar, UNESCO Abuja Office is initiating a Youth Alliance of Media and Information Literacy to combat mis- and disinformation. So far, almost 100 young people have expressed interest in joining the Alliance. The inauguration of the Alliance is expected to take place in September 28, 2020. This will coincide with the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

The webinar is organized with the partnership from StarTimes, AFARI Travels and Tours and Media Awareness and Information for All Network (MAIN), with the Ministers of Youths and Sports from Nigeria and Sierra Leone in attendance. Three hundred and ten different attendees participated in the webinar.

Jingles Videos against Mis- and Dis-Information on COVID-19

The top five Winners

No. 1

Facebook @ Damola Samson Oladipo

No. 2

Instagram @ diam_sophie

No. 3

Instagram @ d_mindsmith

No. 4

Instagram @ seams_consults

No. 5

Instagram @ koded_moment

Publication of Survey Report

The Perception of COVID-19 Communication in West Africa (non-Sahel)