Schools ‘responsible’ for making sure graduates can detect fake news

Jee Y. Geronimo
Schools ‘responsible’ for making sure graduates can detect fake news
'It is the responsibility of universities and in fact all education institutions that we graduate students who are responsible citizens in a democracy,' says Clarissa David of the University of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – With the proliferation of fake news nowadays, educators recognize that they have an important role to play in producing graduates who can discern what’s real from what’s not.

During Rappler’s public forum called “Truth, Trust, and Democracy in the Age of Selfies, Trolls, and Bots” on Tuesday, November 28, educators from both the public and private sector discussed what the academe is doing to combat fake news.

“The education part for this I think is not so much just fake news and disinformation, but also it is the responsibility of universities and in fact all education institutions that we graduate students who are responsible citizens in a democracy,” said Clarissa David, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication.

“On a day-to-day [basis], dapat kaya mong maintindihan kung ano ‘yung real, ano ‘yung hindi (you should be able to understand what’s real and what’s not),” she said, adding that this has a “real impact” on a graduate’s job prospects, since employers also look at their applicants’ Facebook accounts.

David’s co-panelists Cheryll Ruth Soriano and GH Ambat agreed.

Soriano, chairperson of De La Salle University’s Department of Communication, said the rise of fake news made her ask the question of how many of their graduates “could’ve been agents of disinformation, whether as producers or as people sharing…or liking disinformation.”

“And this made me really ask about the role of the academe – us educators who plan the curriculum – [on] how our graduates should come out when they leave the university, that despite education and teaching them, it’s possible that people come out of the classroom and educational systems still not knowing how to discern good quality information from poor quality information,” she explained.

Soriano said it’s time to rethink how an outcomes-based school curriculum can produce students who can be critical, can “falsify what’s fake,” and can create and produce credible information.

Ambat, the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said knowing fake news is part of the K to 12 curriculum because it’s important that public school graduates who will enter the workplace can determine “what’s true, what’s false, what’s a parody, [and] what’s a satire.”

The K to 12 curriculum, Ambat said, equips students with the following 21st century skills: learning and innovation skills; information, media, and technology skills; effective communication skills; and life and career skills.

“It’s not just in formal school – those in your normal classes – where we are implementing or teaching all these,” she explained.

“In the Alternative Learning System (ALS), for out-of-school youth – we have enhanced the curriculum so that they can also catch up and be able to have the skills and to be able to avail of the 4 exits and be able to determine what fake news is, what disinformation is.”

The ALS is considered the “centerpiece” of basic education under the Duterte administration.

Soriano believes online communities can help battle fake news by targeting people who don’t have access to formal education anymore.

“People who have graduated but did not take thorough media literacy discussions in the classroom, for example. In my research in a lot of low-income communities,I realized that people have a lot of active access on YouTube and Facebook but without thorough access to how they can discern credible from non-credible information,” Soriano explained.

She added: “I think joining online communities, and these communities also extending their reach beyond your usual interlocutors and online media…I think this is a genuine possibility for people who are not in the classroom…to join in the conversation and at least discuss, first, what motivates people to create fake news, because only when you understand what motivates the disinformation producers would you understand how to avoid that.”

The panel “Fake news and democracy: What educators and the academe can do” was moderated by Vince Lazatin, executive director of the Transparency and Accountability Network. – Rappler.com

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.