Jakarta, INDONESIA January 24, 2022 – On the International Day of Education, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED), with the support of the U.S. government, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a comprehensive Training-of-Trainers Program to Counter Disinformation and Promote Media Literacy. The Training-of-Trainers Program will help strengthen education on media literacy, counter disinformation in the region, and serve as a valuable resource for educators to enhance critical thinking among students about the impacts of information technology and social media in society, including the threats posed by disinformation.
Noting the negative implications of disinformation on democracy as well as the importance of media and information to foster peace education and moderation values as well as combat fake news, SOM-ED Philippines leader, Wilfredo E. Cabral, underscored the significance and timeliness of the initiative. He said, “Along with our partners, ASEAN education sectors are pushing for the continuous inclusion of media and information literacy skills subject matter to address disinformation and promote media literacy in the curriculum. We also deem media and information literacy important as it identifies the need to produce learners who are knowledgeable on the evolution from traditional to new media, types of media, and the legal, ethical, and societal issues related to media and information dissemination.”
Attended by over 80representatives of the ASEAN youth, education, and information sectors; the Association of Southeast Asian Teacher Education Network; the ASEAN Foundation; and civil society and private sector representatives, stakeholders had an opportunity to provide inputs on next steps to disseminate the training resource regionally. USAID, through the USAID-ASEAN Partnership for Regional Optimization in the Political Security and Socio-cultural Communities (PROSPECT) project, will continue to work with the ASEAN education sector to pilot the Training-of-Trainers Program later this year.
Dr. Steven G. Olive, Mission Director, USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia, emphasized the mutual concern and need for collaboration in enhancing youth awareness and ability to navigate a digital landscape where disinformation is increasingly problematic. He stated, “In Southeast Asia, the United States, and across the globe, we are witnessing the harmful impacts of disinformation–from societal polarization to stoking violent extremism, and hampering pandemic response and vaccination efforts. Despite being digital natives, youth are not immune to disinformation. To help advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region, USAID is working closely with ASEAN stakeholders to build resilience and inclusivity across ASEAN member states by bolstering critical thinking skills through media literacy education initiatives.”
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