The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) in partnership with Credit Suisse, has begun a programme to educate and protect children, young people and their teachers about the risks of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to ensure safe and responsible use of the internet.
The core objective of the online safety awareness programme to be implemented in the Northern Region, which is an extension of Camfed’s pioneering work on child protection, seeks to enable children and young people to access more educational and personal development opportunities through the safe and responsible use of ICT.
The programme also seeks to reach out to at least some 4,200 school children from 32 Junior and Senior High Schools in 17 districts of the Northern Region by training 27 young women from the Camfed Alumnae network, 32 ICT teachers and some programme officers from the Departments of Children, Gender, and Social Welfare, who also have child protection at the core of their work as ‘Safe ICT Facilitators’.
Mr Charles Atia, Head of Operations at Camfed Ghana, told the GNA in an interview in Tamale at the weekend that a cascade model of training used already by Camfed with enormous success, would be used to train a total of 210 Safe ICT Facilitators, starting with some 59, who had already been trained to use the safe ICT toolkit developed by Camfed tailored to the needs of young people.
Mr Atia said Internet usage in Ghana had grown exponentially over the past few years and that access to it via mobile phones was predicted to continue to rise as access becomes easier, cheaper and more popular, which would advance opportunities for access to information and communications and also bring threats and important considerations for child protection.
He said a research conducted by Camfed had found out that access to ICTs and internet in rural areas of the Northern Region had been limited to children who were unable to gain access and that social media through the use of basic and smart mobile phones had been the order of the day.
He said some children and young people were already falling victims to scams, including requests to send money, share personal information such as address and bank details to meet strangers they have met online.
Mr Atia said while teachers were now engaged in delivering ICT as part of the national education curriculum, their knowledge of the course contents was quite low and their use of social media did not appear to be keeping pace with young people’s knowledge saying, “Social media has gradually become an integral part of the normal daily lives of the young. This indicates a critical area for training that needs to be looked at”.
He said the research showed that awareness of these dangers among young people and their teachers in northern Ghana was largely absent.
He said a weekly radio programme aimed at reaching out to as many communities as possible within the Northern Region would be aired on one of the Radios in the Tamale Metropolis as means of intensifying the education.
He said the programme also hoped to initiate discussions with stakeholders at the district, regional and national levels to formulate and enforce policies that would safeguard children and young people against the risks of ICTs.
Camfed is a non-governmental organization engaged in eradicating poverty through education of girls and empowerment of young women. GNA