NATIONAL NEWS - The Western Cape Education Department and Google have launched an Online Safety Curriculum Guideline that is expected to reach 350 000 students annually. The curriculum guideline will be integrated into Life Orientation for Grades 8 to 12 in the Western Cape.
The guideline was piloted last year and is already being taught in a number of schools. The roll-out to the rest of the schools in the province will be complete by the end of the year.
The curriculum guideline is an interactive resource that allows both teachers and learners to learn about online safety. The guideline is compliant with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and can be linked to other subjects such as Information Technology (IT) and Computer Application Technology (CAT).
The curriculum guideline seeks to encourage learners to become responsible digital citizens and to be future-ready. It does so through educating learners and teachers on topics such as personal safety online, cyberbullying, selfies, inappropriate content, the positive and negative impacts of social media, and more.
“In preparation for launching this initiative,” says Google Africa director of government affairs and public policy Charles Murito, “Google has trained more than 500 Life Orientation teachers across the province. We also held workshops with senior curriculum planners and eLearning advisors within the Western Cape Education Department to build capacity on the understanding of online safety and refining the curriculum guideline to be CAPS-compliant.”
Says Ismail Teladia from the Western Cape Education Department: “This is the first online safety curriculum guideline of its kind to be integrated into schools in South Africa at this scale through Life Orientation. This makes the Western Cape the first province in SA to fully adopt online safety content as part of teaching and learning, an achievement we are very proud of.
Protecting children online is not a problem that can be solved by any single player, says Murito. “It is the responsibility of government, educators, platform providers and other private-sector players, civil society, caregivers, and the children themselves. Initiatives like this that involve multiple stakeholders are critical to ensuring we enable our children to guard their own safety online and become responsible digital citizens who can help others to safeguard theirs.”
Grade 8 - Being safe online. The content for Grade 8s focuses on online-safety guidelines and principles as they start to explore the online world. Topics covered include how to communicate appropriately on messaging platforms, video chats and email, how to create effective passwords and addressing cyberbullying.
Grade 9 - Being a respectful digital citizen. Following on from the foundational topics covered in Grade 8, Grade 9 covers development of self and how to be respectful to themselves and others online. From sharing information to the consequences of their behaviour around activities like sexting, as a scholar and in the future as an adult looking for a job. Other skills taught include how to validate the authenticity of websites and how to identify misinformation and inaccuracies in online content.
Grade 10 - Being smart online. The Grade 10 curriculum focuses on teaching learners that not everything on the internet is true or correct, and giving them the tools to help identify misinformation. Included in this is information designed to create awareness of dangers like online fraud, scams, phishing and trolls. It also provides an understanding of networks, the internet and the web, and linking this knowledge to why it’s important to be safe and respectful online.
Grade 11 - Being a responsible digital citizen. A responsible real-world citizen follows the rules and is aware of their rights and responsibilities, and so it is in the virtual world. Learners are introduced to the characteristics of good citizenship, the concept of others’ right to privacy, and taught how to respect those rights.
Grade 12 - Being future ready. Today’s learners are going into a world where online skills are a basic requirement. The Grade 12 content focuses on e-Commerce applications and services, and teaches them things like how to apply for higher education online, and how to set up job profiles on LinkedIn and other suitable sites. It also covers financial risks and helps them understand how to keep their personal and financial information safe online.
The Curriculum Guideline includes comprehensive information for educators to guide them on how to teach the curriculum and what tools and strategies to use.
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