UNESCO promotes media and information literacy as a means to counteract disinformation in the Dominican Republic

The workshop “Media and Information Literacy to combat disinformation”, held in Santo Domingo on 30-31 October, was primarily aimed at generating a space for dialogue on the basis of a roadmap to promote media and information literacy in the population of the Dominican Republic, as a strategy to empower the citizenry and address the disinformation phenomenon.
Over 50 representatives of institutions from the Dominican Republic linked to communication, information and culture participated in this space for discussion and articulation among government actors and NGOs, organized in the framework of the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Ministry of the Presidency of the Dominican Republic, and the Permanent Delegation of the Dominican Republic to UNESCO, with the support of the Dominican National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Chair in Communication, Democracy and Governability of the Mater et Magistra Pontifical Catholic University (PUCMM).
This roadmap aims to complement the efforts of important national initiatives such as the Digital Republic Programme, which has expanded the access of the Dominican population to information and communication technologies, creating 500 new online services and establishing a powerful net of Community Technological Centres (CTC) that offer the Dominican population lifelong education opportunities in the field of TICs, and, in particular, to  vulnerable groups.
During the Workshop’s opening session –attended by the Deputy Minister of the Presidency Zoraima Cuellos–, the Director of Information, Analysis and Strategic Programming of the Presidency, Ramón Tejada Holguín, stressed that despite initiatives such as the Digital Republic, it is necessary to continue developing skills and competencies that will strengthen the ethical and responsible use of TICs, and establish a more critical relation between journalists and the citizenry on the information and data shared in different spaces, including the social networks.
In turn, Mauricio Ramírez, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in the Dominican Republic, underscored the importance of counteracting the disinformation affecting the democratic process and the people’s right to access quality information, crucial for sustainable development.
After a presentation on the global challenges of the so-called “information disorder” that exists today and the characteristics of the Dominican information and communication context, participants dialogued on the main competencies that should be included in a local MIL strategy, the main beneficiary groups, the actions that can be undertaken in different training spaces and the institutions that could support the implementation of activities in this field.
During the debates, consensus was reached on the growing presence on the web of citizens and contents that run counter to the ethical use and evaluation of information, a deeper understanding of the operational logic of communication media and other information providers, the development of skills for a respectful and inclusive dialogue on- or offline, and the strengthening of digital literacy. These are all elements that should form part of a possible media and information literacy strategy in the country.   
In addition, participants spoke in favour of adopting a multisectoral and multilevel strategy that would primarily benefit children, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly, and involve governmental agencies such as the Ministries of the Presidency, Culture, Education, Higher Education, Science and Technology, Women, among others, as well as institutions from civil society, such as Social Communication Schools, the media and trade union associations, educational and sports clubs, neighbourhood organizations and NGOs related to youth education and the protection of the elderly, among others.
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a process of forming knowledge and skills whereby persons are able to understand the roles of the media and other information providers, to critically assess the contents in the media and adopt informed decisions as users and producers of information and knowledge.
UNESCO annually celebrates Global Action Week in this field to facilitate discussion among multiple stakeholders and collective action in favour of achieving a more empowered citizenry through communication and information.