Web rangers train Kenyan youths on Online Safety

A team of scouts facilitate the Online Safety training at Karuri, Kiambu

A Kenyan based NGO together with the Kenya Web Rangers have extended their online safety training to youth in Karuri in Kiambu County through a partnership with ACK Emmanuel Church.

The NGO, Content Development and Intellectual Property Trust (CODE-IP), partners for such trainings at a time when online abuse incidents are on a steady rise in the country. Training sessions target school going children, currently on holiday, and other youths within the locality.

Opening the training session, Alex Gakuru, CODE-IP’s Executive Director said that the program has already trained over 136 trainers and over 3,000 students, whereas 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.

The Online trainings come in timely just when a recent report from Communications Authority (CA) indicated a rise in online abuse cases from 158 in the previous quarter to 252 in December from October 2018. The Kenya Scouts Association (KAS) also had a hand in the one day session that targeted over 1,000 children from surrounding churches and schools, conducted on April 11th 2019.

At the event was H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta who said, “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.”

Apart from the above avenues, CODE-IP and KSA have also established a new partnership with the Anglican Church of Kenya, whose pilot was held at the ACK Emmanuel Church in Karuri, all in the effort to further increase the number of youth trained on online safety matters in the country.

“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.” Gakuru

Further lauding the partnership, was Reverend Patrick Gathagu, Vicar of ACK Emmanuel Church. He  said: “Today, we’ve chosen to be wise even when using our phones. From today, we’re going to choose what’s good and reject what’s bad 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.

Danda said, “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.”

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, today own their mobile devices which they use to access contents online, either for educational t or entertainment purposes. The youth have been said to spend a greater part of their time exploring the online space.

Though laudable, internet access has exposed students and youth to the dangers lurking behind it as indicated by the rise in online abuse cases from the CA report. And most students are currently aware of the same. The partnered training is strategic to help guide 90,000 scouts on how to safely navigate the online space.

Alice Wairimu Kimani, one of the students who attended the session and a member of KSA, said that the training session enabled her to appreciate the need for being careful on what people share on social media platforms.

“Think first then 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 users of the internet. It was founded in Israel and has since grown to 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).


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