10 lakh schoolchildren to get online safety certification by next year

Leading towards a world record, 10 lakh schoolchildren across Bangladesh are expected to receive an online safety certification within the next year, making their online experience safer.

The ICT Division of the Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministry, with support from Unicef, will embark on this journey to minimise the growing risks faced by children and adolescents online in an increasingly connected world.

This was announced on Tuesday at an event to mark the international Safer Internet Day 2020. It was attended by schoolchildren, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), domain and social media experts, telecom operators, media professionals, renowned actors, representatives from trade bodies, and cybercrime experts from the Bangladesh Police.

The Safer Internet Day has been observed since 2004 to raise awareness on emerging online issues and trends. The theme for this year was Together for a Better Internet.

The programme was attended by the State Minister for the ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak as the chief guest.

Within a year's time, we'll create history by providing 10 lakh school-going children with safer internet usage certification and make a major stride towards giving our children the much-needed protection against lurking online risks, said Palak.

The daylong event promoted local internet contents among children and parents, conducted sessions on net etiquette for children, introduced parental control tools, encouraged open conversation, and educated children, parents and teachers on safety aspect of the internet.

It is high time that we weigh the risks and opportunities of cyber technology and use our collective wisdom and strength to minimise the risks. Shutting children out of the internet is not a solution. In today's world, children need the wealth of knowledge and information that is available online, said Tomoo Hozumi, Unicef Country Representative in Bangladesh.

A 2019 survey commissioned by Unicef brought to light that cyberbullying is a serious problem in Bangladesh. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported to have been bullied online for their appearance, examination result, religion and other reasons.

The research Online Safety of Children in Bangladesh surveyed 1,281 internet-using children aged 10 to 17 years from schools, colleges and madrasahs.

According to the study, 25 percent of the children started to access the digital world below the age of 11 years. While older children may be more exposed to cyberbullying, children of all ages are at risk of exposure to harmful content, sexual exploitation, abuse and cyberbullying. The certification course that was launched today will equip children throughout Bangladesh with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe online.

Source: United News of Bangladesh