The Child Online Safety program “Be Smart Use Heart”, has completed its nationwide outreach in Bangladesh to more than 400,000 students, aged between 11 to 16 years, and over 70,000 teachers, parents, and guardians. The objective of the program was to build a better understanding, awareness, and sensitivity around the safety measure that both students and guardians can adapt to ensure positive digital learning experience.
The child online safety program was launched in June, through an agreement signed between Grameenphone, Telenor Group, and UNICEF. The focus of the agreement was on creating awareness to ensure a safer digital experience and the expansion of the Child Helpline Hotline (1098) service by incorporating direct counseling around Child Online Safety issues as well. The Child Online Safety program is an extension of Grameenphone and Telenor Group’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 – Reducing Inequalities.
Renowned social elites and policymakers such as Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP, State Minister of ICT, Ministry of ICT Division, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Chairman, Bishwo Shahittyo Kendro have applauded the initiative for being very relevant and highly needed.
“It is our responsibility as parents, teachers or guardians to safeguard our children and to inform them about the positive sides of the internet. We need to be aware of the content that our children are being exposed to and we need to be able to regulate the type of content they see in order to prevent any harmful effect on them. The safe Internet is for all.” said Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP, State Minister of ICT, Ministry of ICT Division, Govt. The people’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Reinforcing the importance of ensuring positive growth and knowledge among the bright young students of Bangladesh, Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed said “The future of this country lies in the hands of the youth. It is our responsibility to empower our children through such initiatives and keep them safe in the digital realm. The internet can be an essential tool for growth and development of our children. It is equally important that our children are aware of the challenging diversities that the internet offers and the significance of staying safe online.”
On reaching this milestone, Grameenphone CEO, Michael Foley said, “As the leading telecommunications provider and largest mobile ISP in Bangladesh ensuring a safer online experience for our young students is both very important to us and something very close to our heart. We need to keep on driving these messages across all platforms to ensure that our children experience and engage with the appropriate digital environment and make the most out of it. We will definitely continue to generate greater awareness around the need to ensure a safer digital environment for all.”
“Child users of the internet are growing rapidly. Equipping them, their parents and teachers with the knowledge to stay safe online is vital to ensuring that every child in Bangladesh is able to benefit from the internet,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative emphasizing on the importance and timeliness of this initiative.
“We are delighted to achieve something which is so vitally needed through our partnership with Grameenphone. I’m sure this is just the start of even greater things to come in this innovative collaboration”.
Grameenphone has been actively advocating safer internet messages amongst schoolchildren since 2014. In 2015, Grameenphone and UNICEF jointly launched a parent’s guidebook on responsible internet usage and the best practices. UNICEF has been working with the Government of Bangladesh and the ICT division since 2016 to support the drafting of the Digital Security Act 2016 to ensure ‘Online Safety’ for children, initiate joint advocacy campaigns to generate mass awareness, develop child-sensitive content for the Digital Labs in government schools and cooperate in maximizing the use of these digital labs by vulnerable children.