Facebook and CSSL partner with Ministry of Education to train Sri Lankan youth on digital citizenship

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Facebook has partnered with the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) to launch a training program for the Teacher Education Administrative Branch of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education. This is part of Facebook’s We Think Digital initiative in
Sri Lanka, a holistic approach to upskill people on digital literacy and help them become better digital citizens. 

Mr. E.M.S Ekanayake, Chief Commissioner of Teacher Education, Ministry of Education, attended the virtual launch event. He thanked Mr. R.M.M. Rathnayake, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Education for initiating the concept of the Train the Trainer program and reaching out to CSSL to explore possibilities. He also thanked Facebook and CSSL for the partnership to build the capacity of teacher trainers and zonal directors who will then help their students navigate the digital space. 

A dialogue was organized to discuss digital citizenship and digital safety; panelists included Nalaka Gunawardena, digital media activist and representatives from Facebook, CSSL, Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), and Sarvodaya Fusion. The event was attended by lecturers and managers from teacher training colleges and the Ministry of Education’s teacher centers, teachers and professionals interested in digital literacy development. The keynote speech was delivered by Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Chair of LIRNEasia. 

During the discussion, Geraldine Lim, Policy Programs Manager for Facebook in APAC, said “With people spending more time online to stay connected with friends and family throughout the pandemic, it is critical that they are informed of the resources available in creating a safer and more positive online experience. We are happy to partner with CSSL to help empower the youths of Sri Lanka and develop a generation of responsible digital citizens.”

Facebook’s recent Global Consumer Survey conducted in partnership with Ipsos Public Affairs shows that 83 percent of people who use Facebook apps have used them to connect more with family and friends since the start of COVID-19. An increasing number of students are using online platforms for their education as well as entertainment. The curriculum for this program has been designed by CSSL and its partners to train teachers so they can educate students on the digital world, online safety and help them think critically and share thoughtfully online. 

Damith Hettihewa, President of CSSL, said “Many students do not fully understand the digital space, which makes them vulnerable to real world harm. Our youth are the future of our country and they will shape technology and how we benefit from it. The CSSL is glad that we were able to come up with this nationally important initiative thanks to the partnership with Facebook, under the “Contribute” pillar of 2021 CSSL strategic plan.”

This training program is a requirement under the Ministry’s sector reforms and digitization efforts to create awareness among the students so they know how to utilize online platforms in the most beneficial and safe way. The next two phases of the training will be carried out next year for school students in Sri Lanka. 

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