Internet’s role in “Bridging the Digital Divide” is undeniable, but there are also pitfalls. Ensuring a safer internet experience for our young population is equally important. Keeping this in mind, Grameenphone, Telenor Group and UNICEF today joined hands to create opportunities for a meaningful and safer digital participation in Bangladesh.
Under this agreement, Grameenphone, Telenor Group and UNICEF will launch a specially designed “Child Online Safety” programme. The programme titled, “Enhancing and scaling child online protection in Bangladesh and engaging adolescents as agents of change” is designed to directly engage and empower 400,000 children aged between 11 and 16 years and sensitize 50,000 parents, guardians and teachers on how to facilitate a safer internet experience. Additionally, the Child Helpline hotline (1098) services will be expanded to incorporate Child Online Safety issues.
Grameenphone CEO Michael Foley and UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. Grameenphone and Telenor Group have chosen Child Online Safety as a part of their global activities to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 regarding “Reducing Inequalities”.
Speaking on the occasion Grameenphone CEO said, “We have been working on keeping our young minds safe while they use the internet as we want the people of Bangladesh to use and reap its benefit without any apprehension or reservation. This partnership with UNICEF collectively demonstrates how our passion and commitment can make a significant difference in creating safe learning opportunities for the children and significantly enhance their capacity to access the world of information confidently.”
In Bangladesh, mass internet penetration is still a recent phenomenon. Many still have preconceived negative notions around the internet. Grameenphone has been educating and actively advocating safer internet usage among schoolchildren in Bangladesh since 2014 and worked with more than 130,000 students nationally. Grameenphone and UNICEF also jointly published a parent’s guide handbook on responsible internet usage and best practices.
“Growing online activity by adolescents presents an incredible opportunity for them and triggers their active participation in ensuring their rights. However, internet use is also associated with a unique set of challenges and risks for children and adolescents. We, therefore, urgently need to protect our children and adolescents from harmful effects of the internet while increasing their online accessibility on an equitable basis,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative.
The event was also attended by Yasir Azman, Deputy CEO and CMO and Mahmud Hossain, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Grameenphone and other officials from Grameenphone and UNICEF.