New Delhi, Jun 5 : Union Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' on Friday digitally launched an information booklet titled "Safe online learning in the times of COVID-19" to raise awareness among students and teachers on staying safe online.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and UNESCO New Delhi Office developed this booklet which will help children, young people stay safe online through basic do’s, and don’ts that will help parents and educators teach their children how to use the internet safely, an official release here said. Speaking after launching the booklet, Mr Pokhriyal said, "Since there has been a huge increase in online and distance learning in times of COVID-19 situation, there are many children and teachers learning by engaging with each other using online platforms. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and NCERT are committed to ensuring a safe and secure online environment for children and teachers and empowering them to stay safe online.
We urge all victims of cyberbullying to Report and seek Support." The closure of schools, universities, training centres and other education institutions across India since March 20, 2020 as a preventive measure to curb the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, has disrupted education and affected more than 90 per cent of the school going population. The HRD Ministry and State Education Departments have made concerted efforts to ensure continuity of learning through various digital platforms. But this exposure of adolescents to different digital platforms has only increased their vulnerability to cyber bullying.
In India, an estimated 71 million children aged between 5 and 11 years access the Internet on devices of their family members, constituting about 14 per cent of the country's active Internet user base of over 500 million. Two-thirds of internet users in India are in the age group of 12 to 29 years. Data and statistics have highlighted that post-lockdown, the Internet has amplified the risk of cyberbullying, including online discrimination for children and young people. With the aim of addressing these concerns, the NCERT and UNESCO New Delhi Office developed this information booklet. Reiterating UNESCO's commitment to a safe, inclusive and health promoting learning environments for all children, Director and Representative of UNESCO New Delhi Eric Falt said, "It is imperative that websites, digital platforms, social media platforms are free of Cyberbullying, if children have to access quality education. This information booklet titled ‘Safe online learning in times of Covid19’ highlights the negative consequences of cyber bullying and ways to eliminate and prevent the same."
He hoped that the booklet acts as a valuable tool in creating a safer online environment. NCERT Director Prof Hrushikesh Senapaty felt that our investments in the education system will be ineffective unless the issues of online safety and prevention of cyberbullying was addressed as "unsafe learning environments can undermine the quality of education for our learners, as it adversely impacts academic achievement and future education and employment.