NICTA pilots school ambassador Program, advocating on Safe Internet use

“Safer Internet Day” or SID as it is commonly known is now a global movement which started as an initiative of the European Union (EU) SaferBorders project in 2004.Safer Internet Day (SID) has grown beyond its geographical borders and is now celebrated in approximately 180 countries globally.

Papua New Guinea through its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulator, National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) joined this global campaign initiative in 2019, fifteen years after its inception. The day is organized by the InSafe/INHOPE network of European Safer Internet Centres (SIC) with support of the European Commission.

SID is celebrated annually, usually in the month of February. This year NICTA joined the campaign advocating on creating a safer and better internet space for all where internet users are empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

NICTA’s Consumer Affairs Branch has been on the forefront of running the PNG SID Campaign annually for the last 4 years. Activities commemorating annual SID campaign target end users of internet. These are mostly stakeholder engagement oriented involving supporters of safer internet in the country known as the PNG Safe Internet Committee (PNGSIC). PNG SID Campaigns run for the whole month of February, covering radio talk backs, print publications, information sharing through online platforms and events.

This year with the theme “Together for a better internet” , NICTA piloted the  “NICTA SID School Ambassador Program”.  This program targets High and Secondary Schools in the country.

Over one (1) hundred students and teachers from 19 schools throughout the country are participating in this year’s program. The program aims to encourage and support participating students and schools drive the message of responsible internet use within their respective schools and communities.

Participating schools include, Wawin National School of Excellence,

  1. Bugandi
  2. Busu
  3. Bumayong
  4. Gerehu
  5. Kilakila
  6. Koiari Park
  7. Laloki
  8. Kokopo
  9. Malabunga
  10. Utmei,
  11. Hagen Park
  12. Fatima
  13. ,Kitip
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Banz Lutheran
  16. Waghi Valley
  17. Kui Wamp
  18. Kitip, Secondary schools.

These schools are from, National Capital District and Central, Morobe, East New Britain, Jiwaka and Western Highlands Provinces.

The school ambassador program started with regional workshops, equipping participating students and teachers with necessary information on the advantages and disadvantages of using the internet, especially social media.

Topics covered issues such as cyber bullying, online wellbeing, how to identify false information online, privacy, data protection and online rights.

From these workshops, students can now extend individual campaigns in schools targeting peers, raising awareness on the dangers of using the internet and how to be safe online. These students will now be identified as NICTA SID Ambassadors.

Responses from pioneer ambassadors have been somewhat positive signaling certainty in the future of this program in respective schools.

Quotes from NICTA Pioneer SID Ambassadors

Sarah John- Female Head Girl – Kilakila Secondary School – NCD

“I am honored to be a pioneer of this Program and I am adamant this will prove to be success amongst our peers, because times have changed and more students are using social media as means of socializing and communicating. They need to be made aware of the dangers associated with the use of the internet and how to avoid these”

Mr.Jethro Rifireka-Teacher – Wawin National School of Excellence ,Morobe

Wawin is one of the 6 National School of Excellence in the country and we are happy to be part of this great program initiated by NICTA. This program is of great relevance to our school given the fact that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses are now being trialed in Wawin like other National School of Excellence.

We are excited to be part of this and we intend to bring this campaign to Wawin and involve the rest of the students. We will certainly have a program planned for our school in the coming weeks”

Sharlene Tringi- Female Student Leader – Wawin National School of Excellence, Morobe

 “The issues covered by NICTA in the workshop is so relatable to our age group. We have been using social media but most times we are unaware of the dangers. With what we learnt we can now take measures to avoid dangers and be responsible citizens online. I am sure most of us who attended this workshop”

Yandi Clayton – Grade 12 – Kui Wamp Secondary School -WHP

“In this digital age, us students, we have to be informed and made aware of the dangers associated with the use of internet, especially social media platforms”

Mr.Kapi – Teacher – Banz Lutheran Secondary School, Jiwaka Province

“It is evident through the participating numbers in this program, the need and eagerness for students and teachers to learn. For schools in the rural towns, this program is like a light for students to better understand the dangers associated and what measures to take to avoid this.”

To sustain this program, NICTA is committed to ensuring that its ambassadors are resourced with information and resources to continue these campaigns. NICTA will be continuing the SID Ambassador Program in the following years. Call for Expression of Interest is issued in January.