As far as media literacy in Malaysia is concerned, there is no standardised national curriculum nor a curricular guidance on the subject at present, unlike the United States and some European Union countries.
Malaysians young and old are not empowered enough to ascertain the authenticity of the information found in the media that they consume, and are left to either depend on fact-checking sites such as sebenarnya.my, other Malaysians to point out what is ‘fake news’ or learn about media literacy on their own through online resources.
Having the ability to navigate the increasingly complex media landscape is extremely vital; as most Malaysians rely heavily on online and social media for their news, they need to be able to think critically about what they consume to reduce their susceptibility to misinformation and disinformation.
Early this year, a national movement was established to empower educators with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to equip Malaysian youths to become media literate.
This movement is Media Education For All (ME4A), comprising educators and media practitioners from various background and is being facilitated by educational social enterprise Arus Academy and independent investigative and impact journalism collective The Fourth.
Through this movement, the 15 founding members consisting of educators teaching at primary, secondary and tertiary public and private educational institutions are striving to design Malaysia’s first media literacy curriculum.
ME4A intends to shine the spotlight on “the importance of media and information literacy in mainstream education.”
To achieve this, it is carrying out four initiatives that aim to ensure that the educators – with the support of media practitioners as mentors – have the necessary skills, tools and knowledge to process media and information before imparting them to their students.
The first initiative is establishing the movement “by educators, for educators” by identifying the aforementioned founding members who have the interest and passion in promoting media literacy for everyone before forming a registered society under the Registry of Societies Malaysia.
The second initiative is setting up a professional development portal focusing on upskilling Malaysian educators in media literacy. Pre-registration to enrol in the Media Education Academy is currently open to educators from all educational levels.
From here, the third initiative takes place, which is to run training courses continuously for new members. ME4A founding members are to plan and carry out workshops to train and recruit participating educators who are keen to join the movement. They hope to gather up to 3,000 educators by 2022.
The four initiative looks at creating advocacy campaigns and a library of learning materials concerning skills in media literacy that will be accessible nationwide.
As the movement champions the need for a better media environment through education and continues to support media literacy initiatives in every educational institution, it is hoped that Malaysians will have greater opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills that can improve their literacy in media.
Educators who advocate for media and information literacy are encouraged to find out more about ME4A at https://me4a.arusacademy.org.my/.