Uzbekistan - strengthening digital skills to build a safe cyberspace for children
16 August 2023
Uzbekistan stands as one of the CIS countries that continues to actively implement the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Global Programme on Child Online Protection (COP). In the present year, the ITU Regional Office for the CIS, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan and national partners, has successfully concluded various activities aimed at developing children's digital literacy and ensuring their safety on the Internet.
Together with UNICON.UZ, the ITU Guidelines on Online Safety for policy-makers, industry, parents and educators were developed and localised into the Uzbek language. Consequently, official guidelines and recommendations on internet safety are now available in the state language and can be widely used, which is particularly relevant in remote regions and rural areas of Uzbekistan. These translated documents are now being actively disseminated to the target audience.
"The Ministry of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan endeavors to create a safe environment for our children, where they can freely use the opportunities of the Internet without being exposed to threats and dangers. Children's safety on the Internet is our priority. We are working with the International Telecommunication Union to provide our children with the knowledge and tools they need to use the web safely and effectively. Only through joint efforts can we create a healthy and secure online environment for our children," said Umida Musayeva, Head of the International Relations Division of the Ministry of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In Uzbekistan, state authorities will use these Guidelines to formulate national policies and strategies that align with contemporary global Internet safety trends. In parallel, industry organizations will have the capacity to leverage the Guidelines to establish safer and more secure services tailored for children. Simultaneously, parents and educators will gain valuable insights to assist them in recognizing potential threats and risks children might encounter online. This guidance will empower them to preempt and effectively address these challenges in a timely manner.
Also, in partnership with IT-Park Uzbekistan experts, the course materials "Information Security in Digital Education Space", developed by the ITU Regional Office together with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, were successfully localized and translated into Uzbek.
These materials form the basis of an online course available on the https://cop-itpark.uz/ platform. The course is specifically designed to provide training for teachers and individuals who engage with children in their professional roles, and it is offered free of charge. It consists of several modules covering the following topics: information security issues, basic legislation in the field of information technology and information protection, the relationship between the use of digital devices and children's mental health, organizing children's information security behavior in the digital space, cyber hygiene and cyber security for students, computer viruses and analysis of software products aimed at ensuring children's information security in the digital educational space. Upon successful completion of the course, each participant receives a certificate that attests to their accomplished training and signifies their capability to apply the acquired knowledge in their everyday undertakings.
"The localization and translation of the course materials 'Information Security in the Digital Educational Space' into Uzbek language will allow me, my fellow teachers and other professionals working with children to be more widely involved in acquiring up-to-date knowledge and skills on internet safety. I gained valuable insights from the course, including aspects related to information security, the correlation between the use of digital devices and children's mental well-being, cyber hygiene. The course proved to be exceedingly beneficial and useful," shared Mahfuza Kopalova, a participant of the programme."
Furthermore, in collaboration with the IT-Academy of Uzbekistan, a series of localized training sessions were carried out across 14 regions of Uzbekistan. These workshops were conducted in the national language and were attended by 305 teachers (275 men and 30 women) affiliated with IT Parks and IT-Academies. Each participant received a training certificate for completing this information security course. The plan is for these trained instructors to apply their newfound knowledge over the next six months while teaching IT courses, thereby imparting the fundamentals of online child protection to their students on a consistent basis.
"We aim to provide teachers and education professionals with the necessary tools and knowledge to be able to effectively protect children online. By distributing the course materials and conducting trainings in different regions of Uzbekistan, we will be able to expand our reach and provide sustainable training on the basics of child protection in the online space. We are pleased to cooperate with the International Telecommunication Union and to be able to make a meaningful contribution to ensuring children's safety in the digital space," said Dmitry Ten, Director of IT-Academy, Uzbekistan."
Uzbekistan continues to actively develop measures to ensure children's safety on the Internet. The introduction of educational programmes, teacher training and the creation of online resources are becoming key steps in creating a safe and informed cyberspace for children. A photo album of the series of trainings for teachers in Uzbekistan can be viewed here.