KOCHI: The spread of fake information online has become a pressing issue in Kerala that the state government in January last year asked the education department to start a continuous learning programme to help students and teachers fight against it. The programme, announced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has covered many colleges and higher secondary schools, with nearly six lakh students receiving orientation.
Titled ‘Satyameva Jayate’, the programme piloted in schools in Kannur under the eyes of district collector Mir Mohammed Ali, was a huge success. Mir, who is now the IT secretary to the CM, has taken the overdependence of children on the internet lately due to increase in online classes into consideration while planning to spread the project to the rest of the state.
The programme has two main modules. The first addresses six points — What is misinformation/fake news? Why should we be aware of them? Why does fake news spread faster? What do people gain out of spreading fake news? What are the important points to remember while creating content for social media? and What are our responsibilities as citizens?. The second module comprises methods to identify fake news.
“If we provide the students with the know-how, it will reach their parents too,” said Mir. The officials are positive that frequent follow-up sessions will sensitise students on the issue. Teachers from various colleges were grouped into a state resource group (SRG) as the first step.
They were later equipped to be master trainers. As many as 1,957 such trainers have been identified so far to train students in their respective institutions. State Institute of Educational Technology director Aburaj B said the programme is being implemented at colleges and higher secondary schools with the support of the higher education department.
“The stress is on media literacy, the importance of fact-checking and critical thinking. The first phase of the programme will be completed by March 15 and the report will be submitted to the department,” said V P Saidalavi, an assistant professor at MES Ponnani College, Malappuram, who is also an SRG member.