Belmopan – Today in a virtual ceremony, the U.S. Embassies in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago jointly launched an innovative program called “Fact Check: Critical Thinking Journalism for Youths,” which provides media literacy training for budding writers. Implementing partners SmartTerm Education Technologies Ltd and the Media Institute of the Caribbean will engage 50 youth participants from Belize and Trinidad and Tobago in a two-week, virtual training facilitated by regional experts in journalism and education.
Deputy Education Ministers Dr. Louis Zabaneh of Belize and Lisa Morris-Julian of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Chargés d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassies in both countries delivered remarks at the ceremony. Award-winning journalist and Chief Executive Office of Great Belize Television Marleni Cuellar was the keynote speak for the launch ceremony.
U.S. Embassy Belmopan Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses-Ones emphasized, “One of the fundamental challenges of the information age is protecting the integrity of truth. As we have seen time and time again, false information – whether deliberately or unwittingly spread — can weaken even the most vibrant democratic societies and undermine trust in democratic institutions. Youth are the future custodians of truth and democracy, and it is imperative they are trained on how to assess the integrity of information.”
In his remarks, U.S. Embassy Port of Spain Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Shante Moore highlighted, “We all must learn to critically evaluate and analyze the truth behind what we see on our screens. The U.S. Embassy Port of Spain is committed to innovative programs, like Fact Check, that help participants think critically before sharing false news. After all, the aspirations of democracy are based on an informed public.”
“A multi-stakeholder approach to have sustained impacts in the fight against false information is much needed, not just for Trinidad and Tobago and Belize but for the entire Caribbean,” added SmartTerm CEO Shamir Saddler.
Young people play a vital role in countering the spread of misinformation, and Fact Check is uniquely designed to empower participants to become advocates for the responsible consumption and dissemination of news and to promote an informed public.