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File picture shows commuters walking past an advertisement discouraging the dissemination of fake news at a train station in Kuala Lumpur, March 28, 2018. — Reuters pic
File picture shows commuters walking past an advertisement discouraging the dissemination of fake news at a train station in Kuala Lumpur, March 28, 2018. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Over 1,200 educators across the nation joined the Media Education Academy’s (MEA) media literacy programme, in an effort to fight misinformation and fake news.

The MEA is a media literacy programme by Media Education For All (ME4A), a national movement by social enterprise Arus Academy and impact media collective The Fourth, in collaboration with 15 specially-selected educators.

It was launched today via a virtual event featuring Ministry of Education (MOE) Teacher Professionalism Division director Azhar Ahman.

“In the media-saturated world we are living in now, it has become more important than ever for us to equip our children with the right skills to navigate the sea of information that is available out there. This is where media literacy can play a critical role in making our students wiser and more responsible media consumers,” Azhar said.

Another special guest at the launch was Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris’ (UPSI) Communication and Language Faculty dean Associate Professor Mazura @ Mastura Muhammad.

“While this initiative is something new, in this fast-paced era of information technology, it is our responsibility to boldly explore and find ways to teach students the best methods to gather information, analyse critically, and make wise decisions,” she said.

Educators who complete the MEA programme will teach what they learned in their respective schools, preparing their students to become responsible and empowered media users.

Professional journalists and advocates have lauded the MEA programme, calling for more teachers, schools, and state education departments to sign up.

“As we have seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, misinformation can be deadly. It can cause chaos and allow social injustice to thrive. That’s why the MEA is so important — we need to equip our children with media literacy skills so they can put an end to misinformation in the years ahead, and one of the best ways to achieve that is through our teachers,”  Ian Yee, former editor of Star Media Group’s award-winning RAGE team said. 

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) executive director Wathshlah Naidu said that the MEA programme anchors education around media literacy within the school curriculum at all levels, adding that it is imperative for different stakeholders to come together to ensure media literacy can be made part of people’s daily process.

The Arus Academy started developing MEA earlier this year when it recruited 15 founding educators and paired them with local media professionals to create a uniquely localised media literacy programme.

“The public needs to know that education is not static. It needs to change and adapt to the needs of the time. I am very grateful for this opportunity to allow us to combat this issue,” Arus Academy co-founder David Chak said.

Educators can also sign up for the MEA Challenge, a nationwide competition for teachers and lecturers to build teaching aids incorporating media and information literacy skills into their lessons.

The teaching aids will be curated into a resource bank available to all Malaysian educators, with winners of the challenge taking home a total of RM10,000 in cash prizes. To find out more about the programme, send a direct message to the campaign’s Facebook page at facebook.com/mediaedu4all or Telegram group at t.me/mediaedu4all.

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