Over 540 young men and women from 12 cities, towns and villages in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, benefited from the activities carried out by the Safe and Secure Youth.Net Project in the framework of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP).
The project was conducted in partnership with the Interactive Education and Resource Network (IMOR), a national NGO, which received financial support from UNESCO’s Multi-donor Emergency Fund. The content of the training was built around various resource materials including UNESCO and IFAP guidelines and publications adapted to the needs of the youth audience.
The project enabled youth, especially those from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities, to effectively and safely use the Internet. To ensure that the goal of reaching disadvantaged groups was met, IMOR cooperated with local Red Cross groups and organized training sessions in urban as well as rural areas. As Mr Jove Jankulovski, Director of IMOR explained, “By building the capacity of these young persons to use ICT, providing them with opportunities and removing various knowledge barriers, this project has contributed to fostering more equitable opportunities for young people to access and benefit from the Internet”.
Furthermore, with a view to ensuring the longer term sustainability of this initiative, the project also sought to involve young persons who belonged to local youth groups. By organizing sessions for sharing experiences and co-learning practices these youth were empowered to inform and raise the awareness of their peers about challenges in cyberspace. To support the ongoing and longer-term impacts of the project, an online platform for interaction, as well as a repository with downloadable training materials, has been created.
The training has been well received with 77% of the youth participants indicating that they now have a better understanding and can practically address online ethical issues, 80% also indicated that they could now confidently manage their own online data. Parents were satisfied as well with the attitudinal changes the training brought. According to one of them, Ms Jovanova Vaska, the training has helped her children to become more conscious of their actions online. “Nowadays children are putting all their intimate life on Facebook …. [Now they understand] there are things to be aware of,“ she said.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. Through its information ethics priority, IFAP is seeking to support both greater awareness and effective responses by all stakeholders to the ethical legal and social challenges of the information society.