The Kenya Scouts Association, with the support of Google yesterday launched the 2019 edition of Web Rangers, a youth programme for online safety at an event to mark Safer Internet Day. The initiative has been implemented in over 15 countries and was launched in Kenya in 2015. This year, Web Rangers is expanding its reach and is targeting 90,000 scouts and 50,000 scout leaders in the country.
Google is also collaborating with Kenya Scouts Association, CODE-IP Trust and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to launch an online safety manual. Approximately 1.4 million scouts and 50,000 scout leaders and trainers are expected to receive the Kenya Scouts Association Online Safety Learners’ Handbook and Teachers’ Guide, which will provide counsel on how to safely navigate online platforms.
In a speech read on her behalf by Dr. Francis Owino, Principal Secretary in the State Department for Youth Affairs, Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Youth & Gender Affairs said:
“I consider the safe and responsible use of the internet to be a vital skill for the virtuous and patriotic youth of the 21st century… Programmes such as Google’s Web Rangers and its partnership with the Kenya Scouts Association are a very welcome complement to the work that parents, teachers, guardians and the Government do in building a better world for our children.”
“Google is proud to be a partner of the Kenya Scouts Association, Kenya’s largest youth movement, in scaling the Web Rangers program to empower an even greater number of young people to be safe and responsible users of the Internet,” said Mr. Michael Murungi, Google’s Policy & Government Relations Lead for East Africa.
According to McAfee Security, 87% of youth today have witnessed cyberbullying, while nearly 69% have experienced it.
This year, the Safer Internet Day theme is: “Together for a better Internet”. The slogan is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.
Moses Danda, the National Executive Commissioner, Kenya Scouts Association said: “The Kenya Scouts Association is the largest youth movement in Kenya, with the objective of developing young people into responsible, active citizens who will positively contribute towards societal progress. Under the Kenya Web Rangers Programme, Kenyan Scouts will now be ambassadors of safe adventuring and exploration of not only the physical space but the online space as well.”
From cyberbullying to social networking, each year, Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging issues connected to usage of online platforms.
According to Mr. Alex Gakuru, Executive Director, CODE-IP Trust, the Web Rangers programme has far reaching benefits for the Kenya Scouts Association and young people in Kenya.
“Introducing Web Rangers to Kenya Scouts was analogous to reuniting two separated twins which practically made implementing the programme much easier, incredibly successful and fun too. Attributed to the Fundamentals of Scouting being a natural fit with Web Rangers values on peer-to-peer approach in tackling online challenges thereby making a better internet for our youth. Thanks to Google for the support.”