For the last 5 months Childnet staff have been supporting a major Cyber-peace initiative in Egypt which aims to empower youth of any nation through ICT. The aim is for young people to become catalysts of change, to create safe and better futures for themselves and others, to address the root causes of conflict, to disseminate the culture of peace and to create international dialogues for a harmonious world.
Using the internet safely and responsibly is an integral part of this ambitious international programme, and Childnet has been heavily involved as an Associate Partner of the programme with responsibility in running a special track on E-safety.
This work has involved training a group of Egyptian youth called Net-Aman (“Aman” meaning “Safety” in Arabic). Childnet also ran sessions for teens and parents in e-safety issues, and is involved in supporting the creation of a special E-safety education and awareness programme.
To compliment this “bottom up” approach and in an effort to spread the awareness and knowledge on cyberspace safety and trigger a national and regional dialogue on the culture of internet safety, Childnet also assisted the initiative in running Egypt’s first ever E-safety conference last week. Opened by Egypt's First Lady, and the President and Founder of the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement (SMWIPM), the conference entitled Young People in the Internet and Mobile Age: Safe and Empowered, attracted over 600 delegates during the two days (March 24th - 25th).
A central aim of the conference was to help share the lessons – and mistakes – that have been learnt in other parts of the world in identifying the risks, developing policy recommendations and best practice models, as well as how best to extend media literacy and education among children, parents and within schools. To this end Childnet assisted in bringing 20 speakers from around the world to contribute and learn from the experience in Egypt.
In the lead up to the conference Childnet worked with the Net-Amanian group in designing a special questionnaire through which they could research what Egyptian youth felt were the issues in using the internet and mobile technology safely and responsibly. Some 600 young people and children completed this survey and the research was presented at the conference by the Net Aman group. Childnet also assisted the group and parents in translating localizing, adapting a range of Childnet SMART internet safety education resources into Arabic. These included leaflets for youth and parents, posters for cyber cafes and schools, and awareness mouse-mats. These were further tested at the conference before being rolled-out.
Stephen Carrick-Davies who led on the project and spoke at the opening and closing session of the conference said,
“This conference was the first event of its kind in Egypt and Childnet is delighted to have been able to support the planning and running of this strategic conference. It was tremendous to see senior representatives from across civil society, government and industry, gather to share their concerns, listen to those from around the world, support the youth and commit to work together to establish a sustainable E-Safety programme.”
Lucinda Fell from Childnet who assisted in the training for the young people says,
“The active involvement of the young people in the event and ongoing awareness programme is crucial and the research they have undertaken with their peers is a tremendous building block from which to develop further education resources, messages and relevant programmes. We look forward to continuing to learn from them and support them as this programme develops.”
During the inaugural key note address, Mrs. Mubarak also declared the launch of the Egyptian Internet-Safety Parents' Focus Group. The focus group aims at enhancing the parents and caregivers’ in protecting their families by raising their awareness of the safe use of the internet and acquainting them with safe means of technology use. Childnet has already run two training sessions with this group and produced a special leaflet for parents in Arabic.
Childnet staff will return to Egypt in May to work with the Movement to review the actions coming from this conference undertake further training with the youth, teens and parents and further develop the education and awareness programme.
For more information on Childnet’s involvement in this programme contact, Lucinda Fell – [email protected].
For more information on the conference, including the agenda, speakers biographies and a video stream of the sessions, see www.cyberpeaceinitiative.org/page/1