Rival journalists, UP educators rally together for media literacy education

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Rival journalists, UP educators rally together for media literacy education
This photo shows a screencap of the UP journalism department's presentation of its media literacy project launched Oct. 6, 2023.
UP Department of Journalism

MANILA, Philippines — Journalism professors from the University of the Philippines Diliman launched on Friday a media and information literacy (MIL) channel to address gaps in the way media and information literacy is currently taught in schools. 

Bringing together veteran journalists from rival media networks, the UP Department of Journalism's media literacy project features a series of video tutorials and a teacher's module that explain the basics of spotting disinformation, fact-checking and the role that journalists play in a democratic society. 

UP College of Mass Communication Dean Fernando Paragas stressed during the event that the media literacy project is the college's "important first step to engage the public directly on social media in the shape and form they have grown to like." 

Publicly accessible online, the media and information literacy channel already contains the series' first episode discussing the importance of journalism, with new episodes scheduled bi-weekly.

The media literacy series features ABS-CBN reporters Karmina Constantino, Jeff Canoy, Zen Hernandez and GMA reporters David, Atom Araullo, Howie Severino, Mariz Umali, Ivan Mayrina and Connie Sison as hosts.

With the project involving the "biggest names in media today," Paragas said that they hope this would lend "credence and virality to the videos" given the emerging use of artificial intelligence to create content. 

MIL teachers 

The media literacy project was produced as a response to a lack of know-how among teachers handling MIL classes, UP journalism department chairperson Kara David said.

Based on consultations with senior high school teachers, David said the team behind the project found that most educators are "not well-equipped" to teach MIL, particularly the basics of disinformation and fact-checking.

The Department of Education (DepEd)'s curriculum for MIL is also "too heavy and complicated" and "lacks focus (and) tries to squeeze in a lot of information in one semester," David added.

In some cases, teachers in the subject areas of English and physical education, among others, are assigned to teach MIL just to complete their teaching load.  

In planning the content of the media literacy lessons, UP journalism professor and veteran journalist Karol Ilagan said that their team also checked teachers' daily lesson logs to "match up" their modules' content with the resources teachers need.

David said that around 22 UP journalism students also worked on the scripts for each episode, which were reviewed by the department's faculty members. 

During the panel discussion, UP College of Education professor Portia Padilla said that the country is not only going through an "information crisis" but also a "learning crisis" due to students' poor literacy.

In the Philippines, around nine out of ten children aged ten struggle to read simple text, based on estimates by the World Bank of the country's learning poverty in 2022.

The Philippines also ranks the lowest in the world in terms of students' reading abilities, according to the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment.

"If the short-form content that students consume on social media are not only difficult to comprehend but also incorrect, the situation will worsen," said Padilla, who specializes in reading and literacy education.

"When you combine the learning crisis — which is rooted in reading difficulties — with the information crisis, our educators in basic education will face even greater challenges," Padilla added.

Media and information literacy is currently taught as a core subject in the senior high school curriculum of the K to 12 program. 

DepEd's official description for the course states that it "introduces the learners to basic understanding of media and information as channels of communication and tools for the development of individuals and societies."

The Marcos administration's media literacy campaign launched in August tasks the DepEd with the creation of an "educator's and learner's MIL manual" that will eventually be incorporated in the senior high curriculum.

A joint statement by media literacy advocates and disinformation experts has urged the government to build on efforts by academics and members of civil society in countering disinformation.

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