03 November, 2021 12:51 PM

Supported by Google, ASEAN Foundation Organises ASEAN Digital Literacy Forum to Combat Misinformation and Disinformation

The online forum provided a platform for digital literacy experts from public and private sectors to discuss and identify the best solutions to combat the spreading of misinformation and disinformation amid the COVID-19 crisis through exchange of lessons learned and best practices.

Jakarta, 29 October 2021 – In commemoration of the annual Global Media and Information Literacy week, the ASEAN Foundation with the support of Google organised ASEAN Digital Literacy Forum virtually on Thursday, 28 October 2021.

The online forum provided a platform for digital literacy experts from public and private sectors to discuss and identify the best solutions to combat the spreading of misinformation and disinformation amid the COVID-19 crisis through exchange of lessons learned and best practices.

The ASEAN Digital Literacy Forum, which was live streamed on ASEAN Foundation’s social media channels, was opened with a series of roundtable discussions highlighting the importance of media and information literacy in combating the spread of fake news and hoaxes during the pandemic. Under the topic of “Misinformation in COVID-19 Times,” the first roundtable session brought together Dr. Sabariah Mohammed Saleh from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Ms. Khin Phyu Syn Kyi from DigTech ASEAN to share insights about the spreading of misinformation during the pandemic and how you can play a role in preventing it.

Under the theme of “Digital Literacy in the Times of COVID-19,” the second roundtable discussion focused on ways to foster critical thinking and the mindset of “check first, share later.” Chair of ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education H.E. Mr. Wilfredo, SOMRI Chairperson of Cambodia H.E. Dr. Sok Prasith, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google Tenzin Norbhu and Lecturer of Communication Science at Islamic University of Bandung Ms. Santi Indra Astuti discussed ways to implement digital education, advance critical thinking skills and foster collaboration with multi-stakeholders as key solutions to address misinformation and disinformation in the region in a sustainable manner.

The ASEAN Digital Literacy Forum was also attended by ASEAN Foundation’s Chair of Board of Trustees and Permanent Representative of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to ASEAN H.E. Amb. Bang, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to ASEAN H.E. Amb. Yeap Samnang, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Singapore to ASEAN H.E. Amb. Kok Li Peng and Miss Indonesia 2018 Alya Nurshabrina, who shared the importance of having critical thinking in spotting and preventing the spread of misinformation.

The forum also saw Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi delivered a message of support for the partnership of ASEAN Foundation and Google.org to combat misinformation and disinformation in ASEAN.

“The ASEAN Foundation programme on misinformation with support from Google.org is a timely initiative in response to the rise of fake news in recent years. This programme further amplifies the ASEAN culture of prevention and supports our regional effort in minimising the harmful effects of misinformation and promoting media literacy and cyber wellness through the work of ASEAN Senior Future Responsible for information and the ASEAN Cyber Security coordinating community,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi.

As a way of supporting the communities to combat misinformation and disinformation, the ASEAN Foundation with support from Google also launched Digital Literacy 101 comic during the forum. Containing essential tips on how to fact-check and verify credibility of news sources, the slice-of-life short comic aims to make media and information literacy accessible to all ASEAN citizens through a simple click of a button. The comic can be downloaded for free at bit.ly/aseandiglit101

“In today's complex environment, we must all learn how to identify the source of information, verify it, and become our own fact checkers to ensure the information we see is trustworthy. This is the key reason why we decided to develop this Digital Literacy 101 comic. I hope this short comic can help people in particular youth and elderly in ASEAN better understand what misinformation is, where it comes from and how important facts are in this digitized age. Google is pleased to work with the ASEAN Foundation and all the partners to help strengthen people's critical thinking through this comic,” said Head of Public Affairs of Google Southeast Asia Ryan Rahardjo.

In the forum, a new initiative called ASEAN Digital Literacy Programme was also launched to further combat misinformation and disinformation in the region. With the support of a US$ 1.5 million grant from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, the ASEAN Foundation will lead the implementation of the two-year programme, equipping 1,000+ trainers across ten ASEAN countries with media and information literacy skills who will in turn train 100,000+ end beneficiaries.

“The ASEAN Foundation is pleased to receive support from Google.org to implement the ASEAN Digital Literacy Programme in 2022. This programme marks an important milestone in our journey to strengthen the digital literacy skills of ASEAN citizens, transforming them into agents of change that can combat online misinformation and disinformation,” said Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation Dr. Yang Mee Eng.

Commenting on why they chose to fund this specific programme, Google.org's Lead for APAC Marija Ralic, indicated that “At Google.org, we are always looking for gaps where we can make a real difference in impacted communities. UNESCO identified media literacy as key in fostering critical thinking, respect for cultural diversity, and open dialogue in the Asia Pacific region. But they also observed that one of the biggest hurdles to properly implement media literacy education at scale was the lack of teacher training. That’s why we chose to support the ASEAN Foundation to fund “train the trainer” programs across the region to help deliver digital and media literacy to as many people as possible.”

In the implementation of the programme, the ASEAN Foundation will work with local implementing partners in ten ASEAN countries to develop tailor-made training curriculum, and deliver it to the local trainers. Besides providing training on media and information literacy, the programme also includes other key interventions such as the creation of a youth advisory group and the establishment of an e-learning platform. The call for applications for the youth advisory group will be launched in early 2022.

The ASEAN Digital Literacy Forum was viewed by over 3,700 viewers on ASEAN Foundation’s YouTube and Facebook channel.

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