Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is growing in importance as a skill for learning and engaging with society in both our personal and professional lives. MIL is crucial to the freedom of expression and information as it gives individuals the knowledge they need to evaluate the functions of the media and choose the most effective way to use and create their own content.
With the goal of strengthening MIL in Nepal, UNESCO launched a MIL survey, selected Youth Media Champions and held a National MIL Conference to foster MIL among youth, indigenous communities, and policymakers and advocate for MIL policy development in Nepal.
UNESCO in partnership with Kathmandu University launched a survey to assess the situation of MIL at a more localized level. The survey findings provided a baseline for the work ahead in promoting MIL in Nepal.
With the aim of improving youth’s digital citizenship skills, UNESCO and International Youth Media Summit under the theme “Combating Infodemic” brought an inclusive group of nine Youth Media Champions (YMCs) from all provinces of Nepal to conduct community-level intervention and sensitization on MIL. The YMCs launched a Change Initiative program in their communities especially among youth, women and girls, indigenous community, Dalits and persons with disabilities, empowering them with critical thinking and analysis skills, developing their capacity to remain safe online, identifying correct information, exercising freedom of expression and creating content online. The YMCs change initiative reached around 200 community members on 15 January 2023.
Shristi Jha, a 10th grader from Jaleshwor municipality in Mahottari district, Madhesh province said that she gained an understanding of the true nature of infodemic in digital media. The MIL session helped her gain new skills in critically analyzing information, fact checking and identifying false information. She said that there should be similar workshops for children to raise more awareness on the issue.
On 8-10 December 2022, UNESCO organized a National MIL Conference that brought together over 60 key MIL stakeholders, especially youth, policymakers, media, and federal and provincial representatives to have common understanding of MIL and identifying the importance of MIL at policy level and creating capacity development strategies of the relevant stakeholders.
Baikuntha Prasad Aryal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology mentioned that the conference was extremely helpful in addressing issues of disinformation in Nepal. He said that the school-level curriculum is being updated to include critical thinking and analytical skills to empower students to become media literate citizens.
Surendra Basnet, Vice Chairperson of Nepal Youth Council committed to including MIL as a vital component in the youth policy which is being updated.
These initial MIL efforts in Nepal have produced several compelling recommendations for developing policies and strategies to advance MIL activities in the days ahead.