Jakarta (ANTARA) - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) along with technology company Meta on Tuesday launched an initiative to improve university students' digital literacy in Indonesia.

The Saring Daring University Challenge is a new initiative that will engage nearly 200 university students from six universities in Indonesia to promote digital literacy, critical thinking, and positive online communications, the US Embassy in Jakarta noted in a statement on Wednesday.

"Students will create videos for social media with the help of Love Frankie, a social change agency that designs and implements communications initiatives addressing critical social issues," it said.

The launch was attended by representatives from USAID, Meta, and CSO networks, along with students and representatives from six partner universities across Indonesia: Universitas Airlangga in East Java, Universitas Mulawarman in East Kalimantan, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara in Banten, Universitas Nusa Cendana in East Nusa Tenggara, Universitas Tanjungpura in West Kalimantan, and Universitas Sriwijaya in South Sumatra.

Building on Meta’s successful "We Think Digital" programs across Asia, the Saring Daring University Challenge invites students to join a series of hybrid training bootcamps led by industry experts to develop creative videos for the public about positive online behaviors, digital literacy, and critical thinking.

"The United States is committed to promoting inclusion, freedom, and openness across the region, including in digital ecosystems," Yahya Luping, a democracy and governance specialist at USAID Indonesia, stated.

"We are pleased to support this effort to bring together youth, leaders in digital ecosystems, such as Meta, creative influencers, and governments to co-create this shared vision in Indonesia," he noted.

Students participating in the bootcamps will work with creative mentors and digital literacy experts, as they pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

The judges will select the top team from each university based on their creativity and effectiveness at improving digital literacy for Indonesians.

"We, at Meta, focus on enabling people in Indonesia to build a future and progress in their lives," Dessy Septiane Sukendar, the policy program manager at Meta Indonesia, stated.

"We are excited for the Saring Daring University Challenge to help youth unleash their creativity to educate communities and continue to become digital literacy ambassadors in their networks," she affirmed.

Co-Founder of the Digital Literacy Research Network (Japelidi) Santi Indra Astuti emphasized that in the digital civilization era, critical thinking is crucial.

"We cannot survive without the ability to think critically. Simple things like not easily believing and filtering the information that comes our way can help us develop critical thinking skills," Astuti remarked.

She believes that if critical thinking were to become a habit, then it has the potential to break the chain of digital crimes in any form.

"A proactive approach to developing digital literacy agents is to teach students to think critically. We will have a future generation that is qualified in the digital space and is not easily trapped in various digital crimes if we start early," she stated.

The six selected teams, one from each partner university, will showcase their videos at the national celebration summit in September 2023, where the winning team will be announced.

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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