Grameenphone, Telenor Group and UNICEF formally kicked off the safe internet outreach programme in schools nationwide on Wednesday to create awareness and understanding of a safer internet environment for the youth, as a part of the agreement signed earlier this year in June.
The programme titled "Be Smart, Use Heart" was officially rolled out today in the presence of State Minister of ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak; Grameenphone CEO, Michael Foley; UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder; Grameenphone Deputy CEO, Yasir Azman; Grameenphone CCAO, Mahmud Hossain; and Telenor Group's Vice President, Sustainability and Child Online Safety Specialist, Ola Jo Tandre.
The programme has been specially designed to 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 digital experience. The training in schools focus primarily on building awareness on safety measures for digital learning.
Moreover, the scope of the Child Helpline hotline (1098) service has been expanded to incorporate Child Online Safety issues, where the youth can receive counseling and other support directly from the hotline.
This initiative will help Grameenphone and Telenor Group support their global commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 - Reducing Inequalities.
Speaking on the occasion Grameenphone CEO said, "As the biggest internet service provider in Bangladesh we have a responsibility to ensure a safer digital experience for our young users. The internet is a key source for knowledge, entertainment and communication and everyone should have safer experience."
"We are committed to driving this Child Online Safety initiative forward to ensure that our children reap the most benefits from the internet and digital services," he added.
"Children everywhere deserve to be empowered equally in order to both benefit from digital opportunities and stay safe online. Telenor Group believes that a supportive ecosystem can help to address digital risks and increase children's resilience, which is why we are investing in building capacity through Grameenphone's initiative," said Mai Oldgard, Head of Sustainability at Telenor Group.
"Ensuring Internet Safety is a key element of achieving our dream of a digital Bangladesh.
As a nation, we want to equip our youth with the right modes of technology so that our youth can compete in a global scale," said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister of ICT who was present at the event as chief guest.
"Initiatives like Child Online Safety will play a significant role in creating awareness and will also help us understand the responsibility that each one of us has. We want to take necessary measures and help organizations like Grameenphone and UNICEF to create safer digital environment for our future generations," he added.
Grameenphone has been actively advocating safer internet messages amongst children since 2014 and also reached out to 130,000 students nationwide. In 2015, Grameenphone and UNICEF had also launched a parent's guidebook for responsible internet usage and best practices.
"Internet is a platform that provides people with opportunity to connect with each other and learn. The possibility of learning and gaining information is endless. We are hopeful that this partnership with Grameenphone will help us disperse a sense of responsibility amongst all users of digital platform. Users of internet amongst all ages should increase."
said Edouard Beigbeder, Country Representative of UNICEF. The event was also attended by other Officials from Grameenphone, UNICEF and Telenor.