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Reaching the Unreached with MIL Education: Penplusbytes equips Students in Two Schools for the Deaf in Ghana with MIL Competencies


Persons with disabilities constitute a significant portion of the world’s population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than a billion people with disabilities in the world, which is one eighth of the world’s population. In Ghana, the 2021 Population and Housing Census reports there are approximately 2 million people with disabilities in Ghana out of over 30 million Ghanaians, representing 8% of the total population.

Like everyone else, persons with disabilities use the media for various purposes. On a regular basis, many are connected to the internet, enabling them to participate in various activities including communicating, sharing news and information, being entertained and being educated and with some creating content to serve different segments of the population.

Although the rapid expansion of the internet has allowed for many opportunities, it has also given rise to challenges such as misinformation, disinformation, cyberbullying, hate speech, scams and many others. These issues have been further exacerbated for persons with disabilities, who often are neglected or excluded.

Bridging this information gap and promoting responsible media usage among people with disabilities necessitates equipping them with media and information literacy (MIL) skills. For this reason, Penplusbytes, with support from DW Akademie, has been consistent over the last two years in ensuring that students and teachers with hearing impairment (a segment of the disability population) are not left behind in this digital era by making them media and information literate.

This year’s MIL training targeted two schools: the Volta School for the Deaf and Blind, Hohoe and the Kyebi School for the Deaf in the Volta and Eastern regions of Ghana, respectively. For three days in the month of May in each of the schools, trainers oriented over 50 teachers in both schools on the basic concepts of MIL and the significance of MIL for deaf students. The 2-day training then covered areas including information disorder, opportunities and threats of using social media and also equipped them with simple tips and tools to enable them verify the authenticity of information they come across, particularly on social media. Visual aids and sign language interpretation were largely used to ensure effective communication during the training sessions.

According to Precious Ankomah, Head of Programs at Penplusbytes, it has become necessary to equip all segments of the population with MIL competencies, particularly in this election year when election related misinformation and disinformation will be on the rise.

“For us at Penplusbytes, our goal is to ensure that no one is left behind in media and information literacy (MIL) education. Recognizing this, we have stepped up our efforts as an organization to equip people with disabilities with MIL skills and knowledge. We are looking to create a crop of MIL champions among deaf students who can also be multipliers in their community.”

Mr. George Agbefu Odikro, the assistant headteacher at the Volta School for the Deaf and Blind, Hohoe who participated in the orientation and training, shared his experience.

If not for this training, I knew nothing about misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information. Our students and even we, the teachers need these kinds of training regularly since we all use the internet lately. Now, I will pay more attention to what I share with my friends and family.” he stated.

Beyond these trainings, Penplusbytes has over the years advocated for the inclusion of MIL in schools curriculum, arguing the importance of MIL skills and knowledge for students.