By Hanan Alnufaie
RIYADH – In a major move to help young Saudi men and women browse the Internet smartly and safely, the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Foundation (MiSK) and Google on Tuesday launched an initiative named “We Are All Online” to ensure effective use of the information superhighway and produce meaningful web content.
The program, supported by the Ministry of Education will see Google-trained staff from MiSK lead student assemblies in 50 public and private middle schools in Riyadh during the second academic semester, an official statement said. It will benefit 10,000 students in the first stage and has the potential to reach one million students.
“Program leaders will teach students how to act responsibly and safely online using content developed and localized by Google for Saudi schools,” said the statement. “We Are All Online (Kulluna Online in Arabic) program will then expand to five other provinces by the beginning of the next academic year,” it added.
Speaking at the program’s launch in Riyadh, Education Minister Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa reiterated the importance of information security especially among today’s youth and the education system’s role in spreading digital awareness.
The minister also called upon the students present at the event to engage with the program’s trainers and content to make sure they get the best of the initiative. He also expressed his optimism that the program would achieve its goals.
MiSK Secretary General Badr Bin Mohamed Al-Asaker said: “Given the notable growth of usage of the digital world whether through regular browsing or instant messaging applications, it was necessary that we find a creative initiative to spread awareness on digital safety.”
Al-Asker said Kulluna Online was the product of MiSK’s belief that the Internet has become one of the most important languages of our time and a necessary tool for development. “The program aims to spread digital awareness and to keep up with the latest global practices which ensure safe Internet browsing,” he added.
Google head of Government Relations and Public Policy for the Gulf Sam Blatteis said: “We are excited to launch this national digital awareness program here in Saudi Arabia. With our partners at MiSK and the Ministry of Education, we want to equip young Saudis with the best practices and knowledge on how to get the best of the web while acting responsibly and safely online.”
He added: “These assemblies will leave a lasting impact on students and will lead to an even better and safer online community in Saudi Arabia.”
Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Mohamed Al-Harthi said the program comes in line with Vision 2030, utilizing the relationship between the government and nonprofit sectors by launching this engaging program executed in cooperation with Google.
“This program targets students in both primary and secondary schools and will include hour-long assemblies in each school. It will be executed over four academic semesters and we expect that 10,000 students across 50 schools will benefit from the first phase of Kulluna Online,” he added.
Google has launched similar programs around the world in recent years such as Internet Legends in the UK and the digital literacy school assembly program in the US. Kulluna Online has the potential to reach one million middle school students and aims to have a large-scale impact that would elevate students’ online safety awareness.