Practicum students discover the importance of accurate information

On Thursday 11 May 2017, the High School Practicum Students reflected on their 4th day of the programme. UNIC’s Anthea Basson welcomed the group back and listened to each person’s reflection and feedback.  This simple exercise provided insight in the value of listening with intent and valuing and appreciating what the next person has to say.  Following a session of taking group pictures, the UNIC team took to the stage and role played a scene.

Mpho  from UNIC Windhoek,set the scene and acted out a play as a political figure delivering a public speech to the community. He was campaigning for a fictional political party (“BBB”) where he was slandering his opponent, the fictional “GGG” party. E.g. he blamed the “GGG” for not keeping their promises to the public. During his speech he didn’t provide the community with valid facts or evidence. He opened the floor for questions where UNIC’s Emma acted as a journalist and attempted to ask him questions such as, “could you provide evidence for your claims against the “GGG” party?” Mpho avoided informative answers and chose to raise his voice and insult the journalist for asking inquisitive questions.

He ended the play by asking the group what was wrong with his speech. Together a discussion  unfolded about the speech and the students concluded that the speech contained sure elements and traits of propaganda. The objective of the role play and discussion was to teach the students how to identify vague, subjective and misleading information presented as accurate facts.This was followed by a presentation by the UNIC team on the importance of accurate information. The presentation detailed the evolution of communication, tracing the timeline of news, new forms of journalist, the digital era as well as the prevalence of “fake news.”

The students were briefed on guidelines for a proper discussion and were divided into groups to engage on discussions on the topic, “should phones be monitored by the Government.” One group was selected to compose arguments against the notion and the other group was tasked to compose supporting arguments for the statement. Three speakers per group were selected for the discussion, along with a discussion leader ( who ensured that the discussion rules were followed throughout the session).  Speakers were interchanged and the results were very strong arguments for both sides on the topic.

After the tea break, the Practicum students watched a video by Robert N. Macomber, an American lecturer and author. Robert Macomber spoke at length about the importance of libraries for societies. This topic spurred a discussion on whether libraries are going extinct as a result of the transforming age of digitilization. The discussion was followed by an excursion to the National Library of Namibia, where Ms. Nomsa ( who worked at the UN in Zimbabwe for ten years) welcomed the students and UNIC team.

Ms. Nomsa highlighted that the National Library was in existence since 1924 under different names and that the library falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. The National Library building is five floors and provides access to the public on books including all laws made in Namibia ( all laws made in Namibia have been kept in the National Library as books).

The students learned about the three main regional libraries in Ohangwena, Oshakati and Gobabis and that Namibia has 64 community libraries in total. The group were given the opportunity to look around the library  under the guidance of Ms. Nomsa and saw very old books, newspapers and documents that have been kept in the library since the start of the last century ( which was very interesting and impressive to the youngsters!). The oldest newspaper the team found dated back to 1906!

After a group picture with Ms. Nomsa, the practicum students and UNIC team thanked her and bid farewell,the day was concluded with this thought provoking idea: “We have far more freedom to spread news than in any other time in history  but we are less accountable than ever before, some research is always a good idea.”

Compiled by Charmonique September, Monique Adams and Gerson Tjiueza