The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) has re-entrenched, its admonishment to the youth to end hate speech now!
In September 2019 GIFEC kick started this drive in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and launched the project, dubbed “ICT and Media: Efficient Tools for the Youth in Preventing Violent Extremism”.
The project aims at preventing violent extremism using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to safeguard human values, counter negative behaviors and violent extremism online. It coincided with the call by the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the maiden Kofi Annan Peace and Security (KAPS) Forum.
The President at the forum underscored the urgent need to tackle the issues of endemic poverty, illiteracy and bad governance which are enablers to cultivate extremist ideas. He further called on Nations to provide a platform for robust engagement on global peace and security and adopt new strategies to counter the shared and unprecedented threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the sub-region. A call, which came in at the right time as GIFEC and UNESCO, had set out a campaign on countering violent extremism.
The youth focused sessions in the first phase trained three hundred (300) young men and women in the Ashanti and Western North Regions. Beneficiaries who were thankful for the transformational experience from the workshop. The participants were made up of teachers, members of religious bodies, students from senior high schools and tertiary institutions, entrepreneurs and people from the informal sector.
UNESCO as a key stakeholder in forging a culture of peace puts young people at the very heart of efforts in educating the populace on the root causes of violent extremism, as there is a growing concern of several young persons are recruited on a daily basis to join groups with extremist ideologies such as al-Qaeda. It has, therefore, become necessary to make the Ghanaian youth aware and equip them with the requisite digital skills, which are fundamental to stimulate the prevention of violent extremism and make them active participants and change agents of the information and communication society.
Mr. Abraham Kofi Asante, the Administrator of GIFEC at the maiden launch noted that the disarming process of violent extremism must begin with human rights and the rule of law, with dialogue across all lines by empowering the youth through education and skills for decent jobs as technological and cultural competencies are required to sharpen the youth’s critical thinking. Such interventions must start very early in homes, communities and on the benches of schools he ended.
The training gave an expose on the youths’ rights and responsibilities and youth empowerment to enable them channel energies into a productive future. The final stage of the training was on advance technical enlightenment on social media, this session allowed the development and finalization of media productions of animations, infographics, fact sheets, videos and imaginary and audio-visual modules to be used during the online prevention campaigns.
The third phase encapsulates an online no hate speech campaign. Hate speeches can be classified as words that are abusive and threatening, which are spoken or written to express prejudice against a particular group or individual, especially based on race, religion, gender and ethnic origin.
As the use of the internet has become more pervasive and the main source of information amongst the youth, GIFEC is relentlessly pushing the “No Hate Speech” Online Campaign to help educate and eradicate the menace.
The campaign aims at combating hate speech by mobilizing young people to speak up on their human rights and democracy online. As mentioned early on, a balance of fundamental rights and principles, including freedom of expression and the defense of human dignity needs to be established.
The campaign seeks to reduce the acceptance of hate speech both online and offline, through human rights education and awareness-creation, youth participation and media literacy. It provides the youth, educators, and campaigners with efficient tools to combat and ultimately prevent violent extremism, hate speeches and cyberbullying, which are some of the current technological challenges.
GIFEC is currently on a social media campaign with the hashtag #NoHateSpeech as its rounding up and encouraging youths to nip in the bud hate speeches and to pledge support to the cause.