MNA Science & Technology Desk: Grameenphone, Telenor Group and UNICEF joined forces to boost Child Online Safety programme by empowering 1.2 million children and adolescents across Bangladesh by 2021.
To this end, Grameenphone, Telenor Group and UNICEF on Thursday signed a partnership agreement setting out an ambitious strategy to further strengthen and scale online protection for children in Bangladesh.
The internet is a powerful tool for children that can support their development through access to information, education, empowerment and participation. But the internet may also expose children to violence, exploitation and abuse through inappropriate content and behaviour online.
The project titled “Strengthening and Scaling Child Online Protection in Bangladesh” will train 1.2 million children and adolescents to stay safe online. Sensitizing parents is also a key to the project objective as some parents prevent their children from accessing the internet due to fears about what they could be exposed to. This denies children the opportunity to benefit from the internet. The project will train 400,000 parents, teachers and caregivers to support child online protection.
“UNICEF works to ensure that every child in Bangladesh is protected and free from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse. All children in Bangladesh must be able to use the internet safely by being equipped with the skills and being able to use the internet in an enabling environment,” said Dara Johnston, OIC Deputy Representative.
“We hope that this partnership will institutionalise the key top tips about child online protection and establish the foundations of ensuring that these become a key part of education for children in Bangladesh”, Dara Johnston said.
The project will also reach 20 million people through an integrated communications campaign which supports awareness of child online protection and will engage at least 50,000 people in taking supportive action.
The project will convene policy stakeholders to agree on a plan to mainstream awareness on child online protection in Bangladesh.
Ole Bjorn Sjulstad, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Grameenphone Ltd. said, “As we move into the age of data, online safety has become a global issue for people of all ages, especially children, how it’s impacting our society and our future generations. But we cannot ignore how the internet has become a necessity for a child’s learning, development and growth.”
He said, “At Grameenphone, we initiate this Child Online Safety campaign every year to strike a balance and create a safer digital experience for children. We want our future generations to be equipped and well versed about their responsibilities over the internet. It is important that they take advantage of internet for leaning and understand the significance of being smart and using their heart.”
The partnership will also address offline protection issues through its focus on creating sustainable and embedded solutions inside schools. This will support creating a forum or Safe Clubs within participating schools where child protection issues can be addressed.
UNICEF Bangladesh, Grameenphone and Telenor have been collaborating since 2018 to help ensure children, parents and caregivers are aware of how to use the internet safely and to minimize risks through the program titled “Be Smart, Use Heart”.
The programme completed its nationwide outreach for more than 400,000 students, aged between 11 to 16 years, and over 70,000 teachers, parents and guardians.
The programme was designed to build better understanding, awareness and sensitivity around the safety measure that both students and guardians can adopt to ensure a positive digital learning experience.