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WCED and Google launch Online Safety Curriculum Guideline

The Western Cape Education Department in partnership with Google has launched the Online Safety Curriculum Guideline which aims to teach pupils how to be smart and responsible digital users. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

The Western Cape Education Department in partnership with Google has launched the Online Safety Curriculum Guideline which aims to teach pupils how to be smart and responsible digital users. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 22, 2020

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The Online Safety Curriculum Guideline will be integrated into the syllabus of Life Orientation which is compulsory for pupils from grades 8 to 12.

The guideline has been in production for the past two years.

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Education MEC Debbie Schafer said she was pleased with the final product.

“It is a groundbreaking initiative and it especially meaningful as it coincides with Covid-19, making it a whole lot more relevant. The pandemic has brought a change in how we do things,” she said.

Google Africa director of government affairs and public policy Charles Murit said more than 500 Life Orientation teachers across the province had been trained for this.

“We also held workshops with senior curriculum planners and e-Learning 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,” said Murit.

Ismail Teladia, a senior curriculum planner in the WCED, explained that the guideline would not only be useful for pupils but also had lessons that teachers could incorporate into their teaching.

The guideline is packaged into various themes according to grades.

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  • Grade 8 – Stay safe on your smartphone. This teaches pupils to be aware of stranger danger in the virtual platform.
  • Grade 9 – Be a respectful digital citizen.
  • Grade 10 – Being smart online. This teaches pupils to discern between fraudulent activities such as scams and phishing.
  • Grade 11– Right to privacy. Reminding pupils to be careful of what they post.
  • Grade 12 – Prepare for the real world. This drives the lesson that what you post on digital platforms leaves a “digital tattoo” which is hard to remove.

Phakamile Khumalo from the Media Monitoring Organisation said: “This will equip pupils to act against cyberbullying to report it, flag and block negative posts. It also encourages schools to formulate social media policies that relate to online usage while also giving solutions on what can be done when negative videos of pupils or teachers go viral. The art of reporting the post so that it can be pulled down.”

Tracey Hopton a teacher at Norman Henshilwood High School, said: “Covid-19 has shown us how to transgress our daily routine online. The reality is that the youth of today are more available online than they are face to face. We have to reach them there, bridge the gap technological gap between us and them.”

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