UNESCO partner PTCIJ trains young Gambian leaders in media literacy

Before the presidential election on December 4, the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) trained 40 young community leaders in The Gambia in media and information literacy.

The three-day training, supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), took place at the Senegambia Beach Hotel from November 29 to December 1.

Welcoming participants from youth-centered civil society organizations (CSOs), PTCIJ Acting Executive Director Tobi Oluwatola stressed the importance of media and information literacy in The Gambia’s attempt to nurture its nascent democracy.

“As The Gambia prepares for its first post-Jammeh general elections seeking to consolidate the country’s nascent democracy, there is a need to enable media users to access and use information with caution. Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a prerequisite for democratic participation and the preservation of freedom of expression, ”he said.

The training included sessions on democracy and information literacy, freedom of information and expression, fact-checking and verification, Internet opportunities and challenges, among others.

At different times, participants also participated in group work to measure their understanding of the sessions and to assess plans for disseminating the knowledge acquired.

Ajie Sonko, President of the Gambian Ladies Organization, said the training sessions helped her understand the information ecosystem.

“I’ve done a lot of things in these sessions that we’ve had,” she said. “I learned things that I didn’t know. I learned things like the types of information disorders… misinformation, misinformation and misinformation. I think it’s very crucial in our environment because information moves the world forward and when there is an information mess in a country there is no way the country will move forward.

Ms. Sonko promised to share what she learned with members of her organization and others.

“When I go I will not be selfish and keep what I have learned to myself, I will make sure to teach the members of my organization what I have learned and not just them, I will do everything. what I can to share with my immediate company. Whenever my organization goes into a campaign I will make sure that we teach people media and information literacy, ”she said.

Likewise, Joe Bongay, executive director of Young Volunteers for the Environment, said he learned a lot from the sessions.

“Over the past three days we have gained a very good knowledge about fact checking, how to identify fake news… which is very important to my organization and in the process of our development work. The Gambia is still gradually changing and I think this training is timely. It will help engage young people in the democratization of The Gambia which is still young. Democracy is still poorly understood by many people, this kind of training will help us filter the issue of democracy through communication with local populations and local development partners in order to understand it collectively, respect it and apply what will help us develop as a nation, ”he said.

The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, will go to the polls on Saturday to elect a president. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) cleared six candidates for election, the first since dictator Yahya Jammeh fled the country in 2017.

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