Content Development and Intellectual Property Trust (CODE-IP), a local NGO, and Kenya Web Rangers, have extended their youth online safety training to Karuri in Kiambu County through a partnership with ACK Emmanuel Church.
The training session, targeted at the school going children currently on holiday and other youth within the locality, comes at a time when online abuse incidents are on the rise in the country.
The training comes a time when the country continues to experience an increase in cyber security incidents, with the latest statistics from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) indicating that the reported number of online abuse cases rose from 158 in the previous quarter to 252 from October and December 2018.
The other partner in the one-day training session, conducted on Thursday April 11, 2019, was the Kenya Scouts Association (KAS). The whole day session targeted over 1,000 children from surrounding churches and schools currently on holiday.
Speaking before the start of the session, Alex Gakuru, CODE-IP’s executive director said the programme has already trained over 136 Trainers and over 3,000 students while the overall target for 2019 is 2,000 per county which comes to over 90,000 students.
“The training is done through various approaches. One is via the training of trainers – also known as ToT – which is done directly by CODE-IP. The second is those Trainers in-turn training in their counties supported by County Scouts Commissioners who have made a commitment to ensure at least 2,000 youth are trained per county,” said Gakuru.
“Currently, we are waiting to train online safety to the 2 TSC teachers seconded to scouting movement per county as directed by the Scouts Patron on November 24, 2018. These 94 teachers will in turn train students in all 47 counties, thereby increasing training to over 90,000 students. In view of ensuring this realization, we humbly call on TSC to heed to the directive by the Scouts Patron, President Uhuru Kenyatta.”
Apart from the above three avenues, CODE-IP and KSA have now established a new partnership with the Anglican Church of Kenya whose pilot was held at the ACK Emmanuel Church in Karuri, all in an effort to further increase the number of youth trained on online safety issues in the country.
Said Gakuru: “Scouts’ patriotic commitment to service is both heartening and inspiring. Emmanuel Church’s embrace of online safety training for all children and parents to become better guardians is awesome. Progressive leadership at the Association translating into new scouting applications points to exceeding our national training targets and scouting membership from 1.5 million to 4 million as urged by the Patron, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta last November.”
Further lauding the partnership, Rev. Patrick Gathagu, the Vicar of ACK Emmanuel Church said: “Today, we’ve chosen to be wise, to be wise even when using our phones. From today, we’re going to choose what’s good and reject what’s bad even as we use the internet.”
On his part, Moses Danda, the National Executive Commissioner (CEO) of the Kenya Scouts Association (KSA) noted that what marks out Scouting from other youth serving organizations are the principles on which it is founded, that is duty to God, duty to country and duty to self.
Said Danda: “This marks a great partnership with the Church. There is no other church that makes more of a home than the Anglican Church, the avenue through which scouting entered Kenya in 1910. It is very exciting and historic that scouting is returning home through ACK Emmanuel Church, Karuri.”
“Scouts have adventures greatly and mastered the physical space. But generally, youth seem to have departed the physical space…they spend a greater part of their time exploring the online space. We are very thankful that we have found strategic partnership in CODE-IP Trust led by Alex Gakuru who has initiated a program that will guide 90,000 scouts on how to safely navigate the online space.”
Unlike in the past when most people accessed the internet from cyber cafes, the drop in the cost of mobile phones means that many people, including school students, currently own their mobile devices which they use to go online, either for educational content or entertainment.
Though laudable, this has also exposed the students and youth to the dangers lurking behind the internet as indicated by the rise in online abuse cases from the CA report. And most students are currently aware of this.
While appreciating the importance of the online safety training session, Alice Wairimu Kimani, one of the students who attended the session and a member of KSA, said that the training session enabled her to learn about the need to be careful on what people share on social media platforms.
“Think first, and determine whether whatever you’re sharing or posting is helpful or necessary in any way. Whatever you share online should be something that brings value to the society,” said Wairimu.
Web Rangers is Google’s flagship online safety program for teens empowering them to become ambassadors of safe and responsible use of the internet. Founded in Israel, it has since grown and currently has chapters in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Philippines, India, Turkey, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Czech Republic.
Apart from Google, other CODE-IP partners in the Kenya Scouts Web Rangers initiative are the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs, Ministry of Education; Ministry of ICT; and Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).