Media literacy refers to the ability to think objectively about information that a person comes into contact with through general media and, increasingly, social media. It is a common goal of the government and civil society organizations to bring this knowledge to the Cambodian people, especially the youth, who are more active on social media platforms.
In Cambodia, the number of social media users has increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. These increases aligned with a greater amount of false or misleading content being shared and treated as factual information, leading to frequent confusion.
This is why the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports works closely with NGOs to strengthen media literacy. In cooperation with the DW Akademie project, they train teachers to raise awareness among secondary school students about this issue.
“We didn’t just train university students. We have also trained high school students. Even at this age, they are able to grasp the importance of media literacy,” said Seng Sineth, deputy director of the ministry’s information technology department.
Textbooks have been published to facilitate teaching and learning at the basic level and the department has created web content that can share content related to media literacy.
However, as students are forced to devote most of their energy to preparing for exams, they are often unable to develop their analytical skills to the required level.
UNESCO in Cambodia has also worked hard to disseminate this knowledge. One of its programs – in conjunction with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications – offers training that helps Cambodians learn how to find and identify data that may be inaccurate.
Sor Chandara, project manager for DW Akademie Cambodia, has been working on this issue for many years. He said success will require audience participation.
“We are not pressuring anyone or blaming anyone, but we must come together to prevent the spread of misleading information,” he added.
He shared some techniques that audiences could use to avoid falling victim to fake content.
“They should check the title, date and location of a story. They should also monitor credible media to see if the same information is being shared,” he said.
He added that if it’s a big story, big media companies will cover it too. If not, the risk that the original coin is fake becomes higher.
He said all members of the public have a role to play in preventing the circulation of fake news.
By working together on media literacy, civil society organizations and the government hoped that more people would be involved in achieving the fourth term Sustainable Development Goals.
A joint forum on media education was organized by UNESCO in Cambodia in collaboration with the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh on 4 November.