21 Sep 2021 Georgia project taps youth in fight against disinformation
WACC announces its support for a project in Georgia that aims to empower disadvantaged youth from 25 secondary schools and universities by helping them acquire and develop digital skills that will increase their capacity to address social challenges faced by their communities.
The Digital Solutions for Social Challenges project will be implemented by Helping Hand, an NGO which has implemented various projects focusing on volunteerism, women’s rights, and gender equality in every region of Georgia since it was established in 2009.
Helping Hand will conduct 24 participatory projects on media literacy and misinformation, a participant-led social media campaign, 10 community “Ideathon” brainstorming sessions, and an advocacy campaign to encourage the government to expand media literacy training in schools. Helping Hand will partner with the Media Development Foundation, an NGO founded by a group of journalists, which aims to promote the professional and institutional development of news media in Georgia.
“We believe adolescents and youth are the crucial demographic to achieve change towards a healthier and more equitable society. As such, they will be essential in the current fight against disinformation, with training and support in media literacy,” says Helping Hand in its program summary. “Young people should not be considered just an affected population, but also as highly effective partners in the efforts to fight disinformation and misinformation.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has “heightened disinformation among the population in Georgia,” says Helping Hand, noting that it has intensified debate around vaccination.
Young people can be tapped to promote greater awareness of Covid-19, especially among their peers, fight discrimination and demonstrate solidarity with their communities, it adds.
Helping Hand notes that while many communities in Georgia have some level of access to the Internet, most lack the skills and awareness “to adopt the tools and platforms to the extent that they could.”
A total of 300 students (75% females) ages 16-29 will be selected to take part in the workshops, which will also have an indirect benefit to the student body and teachers from 24 secondary schools and universities.
“WACC is proud to work with Helping Hand to implement this project. Helping Hand is an exceptional civil society organization that is committed to gender justice and the inclusion of young people’s voices in public debate. This project will help to mainstream critical digital media literacy concepts into Georgia’s education system and can serve as a model for other countries in the region seeking to move this direction”, said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC Programme Manager.
WACC is supporting the project under its Digital Communication Rights Programme, which seeks to strengthening the public voices and participation of poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people and communities, in digital communication.