The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed education and the way children interact with each other forever. COVID-19 restrictions have increased the rate of technology growth and adoption in education. While this has made teaching and learning much more easier for children, many children have become more vulnerable to cyber-bullying, hate crimes, sexual exploitation, misinformation, financial scams and recruitment into extremist groups. With teachers and parents not equipped enough to help children prevent themselves from cyber-bullying and other dangers they are exposed to on the internet many children, especially inlow income communities are experiencing serious negative outcomes of using the internet.
In line with its mission of create opportunities for safe and affordable access to technology, GLLI designed SurfSMART. This is a community-driven and culturally relevant internet safety program designed to empower young individuals with information and strategies to protect themselves against online. Through SurfSMART, young people are trained in school clubs and workshops on on cyberbullying, harassment, misinformation, hate crimes, financial scams, and recruitment by extremist groups. The program aims to empower not only potential victims but also potential perpetrators, recognizing the importance of educating the entire ecosystem including teachers, parents, and guardians. By equipping them with the necessary knowledge and tools, SurfSMART seeks to create a safer and more inclusive digital environment for all.
Thanks to a small grant from the Africa Online Safety Fund and in partnership with the Eastern Cape Department of Education, GLLI piloted SurfSMART in 18 schools with 4100 students, 533 parents, and 110 teachers in the Eastern Cape in 2021. The success of this program drew interests from many education districts and some nonprofit organizations in Kenya and Cameroon.
Google.org recognized SurfSMART by featuring it in the following film about the Africa Online Safety program
Global Leading Light Initiatives 2023
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