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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

ASEAN Foundation's Research Unveils Stark Disparities In Digital Literacy

In an era where digital engagement shapes societal narratives and influences decision-making, the recent unveiling of research findings by the ASEAN Foundation sheds light on the multifaceted landscape of digital literacy across Southeast Asia.


One striking revelation from the report is the significant variance in critical thinking and privacy protection competence across ASEAN member states.



Titled "One Divide or Many Divides? Underprivileged ASEAN Communities' Meaningful Digital Literacy and Response to Disinformation," the study explores the digital engagement of underprivileged ASEAN communities, aiming to understand their knowledge, skills, and responses to disinformation.


Hosted in Bangkok on March 20, 2024, the ASEAN Regional Symposium unveiled insights garnered from quantitative surveys and qualitative data collection spanning all 10 ASEAN member states.


Supported by Google.org, this research initiative represents a flagship program of the ASEAN Digital Literacy Programme (ASEAN DLP), which has already empowered over 190,000 individuals across the region with essential digital literacy skills.


Dr. Piti Srisangnam, Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation, emphasized the importance of these findings in bridging the digital divide within the ASEAN region.


"We hope this research will help create a more inclusive and safer digital space," Dr. Srisangnam stated, urging strategic stakeholders to engage with the study's insights and recommendations.



One striking revelation from the report is the significant variance in critical thinking and privacy protection competence across ASEAN member states. Notably, the Philippines lags behind with only 17.42% of individuals possessing high competence in privacy protection, contrasting starkly with Singapore's impressive 54.37%.


Privacy protection competence, a cornerstone of digital literacy, encompasses the ability to safeguard personal information in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.



It involves understanding privacy risks, effectively managing privacy settings, and critically evaluating online platforms' data handling practices.


In a world where data breaches and identity theft are prevalent, possessing high privacy protection competence is paramount for safeguarding individuals' rights and ensuring digital well-being.


The report's findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive digital literacy programs tailored to address specific gaps within each ASEAN member state.


Initiatives like the ASEAN DLP's e-learning platform (www.DigitalClassASEAN.org) and grassroots outreach efforts play a pivotal role in equipping individuals with the skills necessary to navigate the digital landscape safely and responsibly.



Moreover, collaborative efforts between governments, NGOs, and private sector entities are essential to address infrastructure disparities and socio-cultural influences that perpetuate digital inequality.


By fostering a culture of critical inquiry and providing equitable access to digital resources, ASEAN can pave the way for a more inclusive and digitally resilient society.


Marija Ralic, Lead for Google.org APAC, expressed Google.org's commitment to supporting ASEAN Foundation's mission of empowering communities through digital literacy.


This collaboration reflects a shared dedication to fostering digital safety and resilience across the ASEAN region.



"We are proud to support the ASEAN Foundation in empowering people across the region with crucial media literacy and online safety skills. Google.org's dedication to fostering digital safety aligns perfectly with the ASEAN Foundation's mission to empower ASEAN communities through digital literacy which will contribute to digitally resilient ASEAN," Ralic added.


As the ASEAN Regional Symposium concluded, stakeholders from across the region convened to discuss strategies for inclusive digital literacy, with a focus on empowering underprivileged communities.


Through concerted efforts and collaborative initiatives, ASEAN is poised to bridge the digital divide and foster a more inclusive and empowered future for all.




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