By Rethabile Khabele
Mohale’s Hoek – The Lesotho Chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Lesotho), on March 18, 2023, held a community mobilization workshop on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in Mohale’s Hoek.
The workshop was attended by community representatives from Mafeteng, Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek. The representatives were comprised of chiefs, local government officials, law enforcement officials, public servants and human rights activists from different civil society organisations.
Through the MIL project, MISA Lesotho seeks to impart knowledge on the citizens. The project builds capacity of the citizens on the required skills as well as the right attitudes for becoming a responsible, responsive and ethical citizenry in the usage of the media content. The project is funded by UNESCO.
According to MISA Lesotho’s Programmes and Resource Mobilisation Manager, Mr Mzimkhulu Sithetho, the quest is to create a MIL-competent society; “a society that is aware of its right to freedom of expression, but at the same time, conscious of the need to be considerate of others’ rights and freedoms. We have been driven by the need to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes for assessing and evaluating the vast volumes of information that come their way before they consume it,” said Mr Sithetho.
The citizens, Mr Sithetho added, should be informed and knowledgeable with regards to negative and positive content on media so that they can make informed choices with the information at their disposal.
Additionally, the purpose of the mobilization was to teach community members how to differentiate between positive and negative content and thus select information that is most useful to them.
Participants were taught to be careful and mindful of the media content they consume.
Facilitators from MISA Lesotho emphasized it is in the best interest of communities to have knowledge on mitigation and adaptation strategies to avoid misinformation and disinformation, reason being, in the current era of globalization, people’s way of living is highly influenced by the media. Some of the community representatives said they were happy to have been engaged in the initiative by MISA Lesotho. One of the participants, a health professional, expressed her gratitude to MISA Lesotho, stating that people at the grassroots should be taught on how to differentiate between appropriate media content against misinformation and disinformation.
According to her, the health sector was mostly challenged during the advent of Covid-19; “as most people were reluctant to vaccinate, while some totally refused to vaccinate mainly due to the misinformation and disinformation that trended on media platforms against the Covid-19 vaccination.”
On behalf of the chieftainship, Chief Fako Leshoboro Seeiso, of Mafeteng, made a solemn request to MISA Lesotho that all chiefs should be engaged in the MIL campaign; “because chiefs are major role players on matters concerning communities”.
According to the MISA Lesotho National Director, Mr Lekhetho Makhanya Ntsukunyane, the next phase of the MIL project would see engagement of the community representatives on the next level; “ where now the participants will be trained on how to incorporate the MIL concept into their everyday programming to empower communities within they serve.” He said the ultimate goal was for MIL mobilization programme to cover the whole country; “however, MISA Lesotho can only do so much with limited resources.”