Kenya Launches Online Safety Integrated Curriculum for Young People on Safer Internet Day
The 2019 Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations took place on Tuesday, 5 February 2019 at the Rowallan Scouts Camp in Nairobi. The campaign's slogan, "Together for a better internet", is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users. From cyberbullying to social networking, each year Safer Internet Day (www.saferinternetday.org) aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns.
Graced by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Dr. Francis Owino and Hon. John Kiarie MP for Dagoretti South Constituency, the event attracted participation from partners including Google, CODE-IP Trust, Communications Authority of Kenya, Woman’s Hope, World Scout Bureau Africa Support Centre and over 250 Scouts drawn from all over Nairobi County.
Welcoming participants to the event, Alice Kihungi the Assistant Chief Commissioner for Administration at Kenya Scouts Association observed that internet can be useful when used in a responsible manner. “We hope that as Scouts of Kenya we are going to be agents of change to ensure that we enhance safe and positive social interaction on the internet. We will be the candle that enlighten our peers on the safe use of internet to avoid online vices,” she added.
The National Executive Commissioner of Kenya Scouts Association, Moses Danda said that Scouting is a leadership academy where we give young people experiences that make them natural leaders. Educating youth and advocating for safer internet use is just another avenue to make them leaders in online safety. “Internet is a beautiful thing but with its own challenges. We are committed to empower young people through our Scout educational programme on how to navigate through and use it safely,” he committed.
Speaking on behalf of the Regional Director, the Director for Scouting Development, Jonathan Omondi noted that many people fall victims of internet bullying and insecurity and it’s high time they became more aware and vigilant. “A young person plus Scouting education equals an active citizen. Imagine the impact that the over 1.4 million Scouts in Kenyan actively playing a role in delivering structured educational Safe Internet Use programme and influencing other young people can create. Working with partners like Google and CODE-IP Trust, opportunities exist for replication of the Safe Internet Use training curriculum in the framework of our Keeping Scouts Safe From Harm programme to other National Scout Organizations in order to reach out to millions of more young people across Africa,” he noted.
“Scouting is an organization everyone would like to work with because of the leadership it provides for other young people,” said Alex Gakuru, the Executive Director of CODE-IP Trust. He noted that the curriculum being launched today is a product of great partnership and hardwork that will be integrated into the national education curriculum through a partnership with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
Michael Murungi, the Policy and Government Relations Lead at Google East Africa remarked that the future of work is not about memorizing internet content, but in applying knowledge principles. “The role of parents in safe internet use is to be stewards in technology use – a facilitator of learning,” he added. When it comes to internet safety, Google endeavors to build safety into its products, cooperate with law enforcement in preservation and release of digital evidence and build partnership to strengthen knowledge for safer and responsible internet use. “The Scouts should be a generation of young people that us internet to spread hope, peace and tolerant among all people and not use it to perpetuate hatred,” he challenged.
On behalf of the Communications Authority of Kenya, Patricia Kimei, Manager for Talent Management and Organisational Development expressed the authority’s commitment to Child Online Protection and encouraged the proper use of interactive online platforms to grow and spread Scouting ideals online. She reminded participants of the 116 – Child Helpline Number by Communications Authority of Kenya for use in flagging and reporting cases of child abuse in Kenya.
Hon. John Kiarie, Member of Parliament for Dagoretti South Constituency and President of the World Scout Parliamentary Union (WSPU) said that ever so often something happens that changes the cause of history. Such was the invention of the internet. It is not good nor bad, how you use it is what determines what it becomes. “We as Scouts have a duty to empower people to become smarter than the tools and technologies we use so that we can better manage our internet space,” said the MP. The legislator committed through the WSPU to support Scouts and young people through legislations that help to better manage the cyber space. “Make the internet your servant, not your master. If you want to conquer the internet conquer yourself,” Hon. Kiarie challenged the Scouts.
The Principal Secretary Dr. Fredrick Owino, speaking on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Prof. Dr. Margaret Kobia commended the Scouts be being on the frontline in promoting and developing young leaders as ambassadors of safe and responsible use of the cyberspace, observing that “as Scouts being prepared is part of our DNA.”
“We will continue to integrate and mainstream youth interventions including advocating for safer internet use, using Scouting as a key pillar in the achievement of the mandate of the ministry. The Ministry committed to deepen support and collaboration with the Scout movement in Kenya,” said the Principal Secretary.
Prior to and during the event the Scouts engaged in a series of activities aimed at building their awareness on safer internet use. From competitions to performance of skits the Scouts not only entertained but also educated the guests and fellow Scouts on a wide range of issues regarding safe and responsible use of the internet. The exemplary Scout groups awarded with Starehe Girls’ Centre, Uthiru Girls and Ruaraka Academy emerging first, second and third position respectively.
The day also saw the launch of new Kenya Scouts Association youth programme handbooks in which the safe internet use curriculum has been integrated. A separate Online Safety Curriculum and a Teacher’s Guide for Secondary Schools that developed in collaboration between CODE-IP trust and Kenya Scouts association was also launched. These materials have been developed with inputs from the Kenya Institute of Curriculum development and are certified as content for use in the national education curriculum.