[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]
The session was organised by the UK Safer Internet Centre, and it focused on the progress of schools in the UK and UAE with regard to online safety.
The moderator Mr David Wright, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), in the UK, opened the session by briefly talking about the UK Safer Internet Centre, a project co-funded by the European Commission, whose overarching aim is to promote the safe and responsible use of technology. Wright mentioned that this comprehensive awareness programme was one of the 32 Safer Internet Centres of the Insafe network. He added that the programme focused on the importance of promoting the safe and responsible use of technology by children in schools.
Wright then invited Dr Ibrahim AlDabal from Aqdar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose presentation was on Aqdar, a WSIS 2017 award winning initiative. AlDabal explained that Aqdar was a partnership of the UAE’s ministries of education, higher education, and the interior, and the family development foundation. He elaborated that the programme’s mission was to promote online safety in schools, to counter the risks and vices of the digital world. Furthermore, he said that the programme had launched interactive online safety educational magazines, as well as educational games on the Apple store, the first Arab country to do so.
AlDabal emphasised that Aqdar was the official representative of the UAE on matters relating to Safer Internet Day. He added that the programme was supporting schools in the UAE to develop their online safety policy and leadership, with the intent to protect all children better online.
Wright then gave a presentation on 360safe, a multiple award-winning 360 degree safe schools self-review online tool providing a user friendly and interactive means for schools to review their e-safety provision, and to develop an action plan to bring about improvements. The tool, he said, provided:
- Information that can influence the production or review of online safety policies and develop good practice
- A process for identifying strengths and weaknesses
- Opportunities for commitment and involvement from the whole school
- A continuum for schools to discuss how they might move from a basic level of provision for online safety to practice that is aspirational and innovative
In his analysis, Wright pointed out that the UK has been producing an annual assessment report on online safety since 2010. He concluded by pointing out that, so far, 12 000 schools in the UK had taken part in 360safe analyses, as a measure to underpin their online safety strategy and explore improvement trends and barriers to progress.
Ms Ditshego Magoro, a remote participant from South Africa, sought to know how many children were using the Internet globally, and for what purpose. In his response, Wright referenced UNICEF’s report. He reiterated that this required in-depth research in one’s own country as the data was still not clear.
By Bonface Witaba