A cyber safety curriculum for primary schools to empower teachers in Nelson Mandela Bay to teach learners to be cyber safe, was launched at NMMU today, Wednesday, 15 October 2014.
The Group for Research in Information and Cyber Security (GRICS) at NMMU has developed a curriculum to teach cyber safety to learners in primary schools as to date, the Department of Basic Education has not really addressed this very important issue.
The goal of this curriculum for teaching cyber safety is basically twofold;
- to empower teachers at primary schools to offer cyber safety lessons and
- to educate learners in the 10 to about 14 age group the basic principles of cyber safety relevant to their typical activities in cyberspace.
“The proposed curriculum makes it easy for teachers to present, discuss and assess various aspects of cyber safety with their learners in class or in an IT laboratory. The teachers will also be educated to some degree in the process of being able to assist learners with cyber safety issues and problems like cyber bullying, sexting, etc.,” says NMMU’s Prof Rossouw von Solms.
Cyberspace has brought many advantages to all of us and most of us – learners, teachers and parents – have grown almost totally dependent on cyberspace for our everyday recreation, social networking, communication, etc. We can hardly imagine a day without cell phones, the Internet, Google, Facebook, YouTube and many more Internet and cyber-based services.
However, along with all these advantages in cyberspace, comes a whole series of cyber related risks. Sharing too much private information, cyber bullying, exposure to paedophiles, sexting and losing money are merely a few of these modern-day cyber-related risks we need to contend with and educate our children about, he adds.
Almost all primary schools in the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage area were invited to the launch where a free curriculum with 24 lesson plans for teachers, associated discussion questions, assessment worksheets and memoranda will be made available to attending teachers.
During this workshop, the annual Cyber Safety Poster Competition will also be launched. The objective of the Poster Competition is for primary school learners to design posters that depict a cyber-safety message. Winners of this competition will be announced at an event in November and winning posters will be used in further cyber safety campaigns.
According to Prof Von Solms, cyber safety education and awareness for primary school learners is common practice in many overseas countries. As no formal curriculum in this regard exists in most South African schools, this cyber safety curriculum is an effort to fill this gap. Teachers and learners can learn together about the risks associated with online activities. Typical topics that are catered for include: cyber bullying, sexting, safe social networking, privacy settings on Facebook, sharing of sensitive information, etc.