Google Kenya is hosting the first Web Rangers summit in Africa aimed at spreading awareness about internet safety and promoting responsible digital citizenship on the continent. 26 Web Rangers from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are attending the summit to meet and share ideas on how they can make the Internet a safer place for young Internet users in their respective countries.
Main highlights of the Summit programme include a bootcamp on how to make campaign videos for online audiences topics such as diversity and inclusion, trust, tolerance, and responsibility. Participants will also learn how to tackle real-life policy issues – focusing on cyberbullying, sexting, sharing personal information online and catfishing.
According to Ms. Fatuma Hirsi, the Principal Secretary Broadcasting and Telecommunication programmes such as Web Rangers are a very welcome complement to the work that parents, teachers, guardians and governments do in building a better world for African children.
“I congratulate Google in conceptualizing the programme and scaling it to many countries in such a short time, and also for your work in building into your products and services tools and resources that help families to use the Internet safely and responsibly,” she added.
Web Rangers is a Google-led digital literacy programme aimed at promoting and educating the youth about how the internet is an empowering tool relevant to their lives and their future.
The programme provides workshops run by local online safety experts to help train young people. These young online safety ‘ambassadors’ then run campaigns amongst their peers, schools and communities to raise awareness of online safety.
Started in Israel in 2011, Web Rangers has since grown to 15 countries around the world. In Africa, Web Rangers is active in 3 countries – Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.
In Kenya, Web Rangers was launched in 2015 at Precious Girls Secondary, Riruta. During the launch, President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the programme to harness the agency of young people to use technology to build bridges of peace and understanding online and in their communities.
The programme has been implemented in over 176 schools across Kenya, directly trained 3,500 students and 1,500 teachers; and indirectly (through peer training) reached over 30,000 students.
“At Google, we are deeply committed to protecting children on the Internet and providing all of our users with a safe experience because protecting kids is a responsibility we all share, and our business depends on people being online — and we need it to be a safe space.” Doron Avni, Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, EMEA Emerging Markets and founder of Webrangersa said.
“The Internet can aid children with their school work, help them connect with friends, and offer a creative outlet. At the same time, children have been exposed to some of the worst forms of exploitation, violence, and abuse online. It is therefore important that we all work closely together in order to mitigate the unintended negative aspects of this medium on children, while at the same time maximizing the benefits they can accrue from it.” he added.
In South Africa, the programme has been implemented in 3 provinces, reaching 2,000 learners, 50 volunteers, and over 50 schools. In Nigeria, over 2,000 learners from 20 schools have been directly trained in three states, and the campaign has reached over 15,000 learners in 36 states through a partnership with the National Film and Video Censors Board, who have incorporated the programme to their Safer Internet Day celebrations. In Kenya, an offshoot of the programme, known as Amani Hangout Bridges, focuses on the agency of young people in Kenya to use technology to build bridges of peace and understanding.
Google’s implementing partner for this has been Twaweza Communications working closely with the Ministry of Education and the National Cohesion & Integration Commission (NCIC).