The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications – with technical support from UNESCO – is promoting media and digital literacy in Cambodia through the project “Development of National Media, Information and Digital Literacy (MIDL)”.

The 18-month project began in November 2021 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2023.

Ministry undersecretary of state E Sophea said at the official launch on February 28 that the strategy it developed would play an important role in achieving the vision of transforming Cambodia into a vibrant digital economy and society – by establishing key foundations that would contribute to acceptance and digital transformation in all areas of government, commerce and the daily lives of the public.

Minister Chea Vandeth said at the event that the project has drafted two documents.

The first is a joint national literacy framework that will define the competencies and skill levels required for key digital technologies, in line with the context of Cambodia and the expected evolution of technology in the future.

The second is a promotional strategy, which identifies a number of stakeholders that need to be further integrated into the programme.

“Both will support the process of transforming Cambodia into a vibrant digital economy and society by 2035,” he said.

According to the minister, about 30 per cent of Cambodians have a basic level of digital literacy and access to the internet and digital technology while around 70 per cent do not.

“This gap is a challenge and a barrier to people’s opportunities to benefit from technology and access to digital public services in the future,” he said.

According to UNESCO in Cambodia, there has been growing awareness and recognition of the importance of MIDL in recent years among government agencies, academia and civil society organisations.

UNESCO said such recognition could be attributed to the realisation that MIDL competencies contribute to addressing issues and concerns such as access to

information, freedom of expression, and the ability to counter misinformation and disinformation.

The MIDL platform includes traditional mass media, telecommunications, and information and communication technology (ICT), including smart phones.

Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO representative in Cambodia, said at the event that the sharing of knowledge and information, especially through the internet, has brought social and economic change.

He said it is important for people to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to access information.

They need to continue to learn and improve their skills so that they can participate in public debate. It was these skills that would prevent the spread of misinformation and the kind of unfounded online gossip that often led to cyber-bullying or hate, he added.