Engendering Media Literacy and Creativity

Author: Kalema Golooba Ayub

Most Ugandans, and for that matter most Africans, while interfacing with internet technologies, spend most of their time downloading, consuming content developed by somebody else. Be it on WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube or any other social networking platform, aside from some crude tribal jokes and heavily enhanced selfies, chances are you are more likely to encounter articles and videos created from some other corner of the world than from our own country or community.

That bothers me. It bothers me that most of humanity is engrossed in downloading stuff. It bothers me that only a handful of people in the world dare to create meaningful content despite the proliferation of easy-to-use digital tools. It bothers me because we seem to have surrendered the power of creating our content to somebody else. Effectively we are letting someone else tell our story. In the craze to consume online digital content created by others, we have abdicated our responsibility to preserve and propagate our own culture.  And believe you me, it adds up. With each generation, we are doing worse off. Sooner rather than later, our narrative, our culture, our norms and values will be history.

To compound it, our youths hardly have the skills to decipher fact from fiction, nor differentiate between authentic fake when consuming digital content. Indeed, most are naive consumers of information, mindlessly reading, retweeting and forwarding content without bothering to question, cross-check or validate. This makes them vulnerable to manipulation, radicalisation and stereotyping through carefully constructed online propaganda and fake news.

Cognisant of those realities, we started a Media Literacy and Creativity project which is equipping youths with the skills of critical reflection, media analysis and production to transform them into critical consumers and thoughtful producers of digital media messages.

The project is helping to amplify their voices on the internet by training them to create purposeful videos which depict their reality and which dissect issues they care about.  In the process of planning, creating, publishing and sharing their videos, youths learn critical soft skills like teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, project management, working under pressure, creativity, persuasion, self-expression and self-management. In addition, they acquire marketable skills like computer literacy and video production.

The project, still in its infancy has inspired many. As Esther, a participant in the project said, “It is making me a somebody out of a nobody”. This is one little step in developing 21st century skills, a step we believe in the right direction!

— The Author is  an ICT Evangelist and Media Project Coordinator at Sustainable Change Solutions. He is an Alumni of Life Academy’s ICT and Pedagogical Development Program.

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Kalema Golooba Ayub