AU and Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services host public lecture on cyber security and the protection of children
9 October 2019
Marketing and Public Affairs Officer
Office of Advancement and Public Affairs
On the 9th of October 2019, Africa University proudly hosted a hard-hitting and timely public lecture in partnership with the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, UNICEF and Save the Children under the theme, “Safe Surfing”. The aim of the lecture was to raise awareness of the importance of protecting oneself, especially children while surfing and accessing the internet. According to Barnardo’s, a major children’s charity in the UK, children are being sexually exploited online via social media. The newest draw for young children, and those who prey on them, is live streaming (https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com). Research from Barnado goes on to identify popular platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram as the vehicles through which this exploitation can take place, going on to note that they are very difficult to moderate placing children as even greater risk especially as they have real- time streaming functionalities with real –time comments fomenting an environment ripe for exploitation.
VC. Prof. Munashe Furusa in his opening remarks said,
“The Africa University Community is privileged to host this important public lecture on Cyber Security with a special focus on “safe surfing.” The lecture is very timely considering the fact that today, almost everyone owns a smartphone, a computer, or a tablet. In the last decade, the different ways to communicate online have increased notably and have brought about many security issues. Many electronic gadgets are vulnerable, because their owners are unaware or unsure of their potential weaknesses. Presently, smartphones, tablets, and laptops are the most exposed devices! The reason is simple: these mobile devices are used by everybody, in all places, and more often than a desktop computer. I am confident that this lecture will enhance our knowledge on efficient ways to protect ourselves against intrusions, like malware, fake emails, and malicious website links. Whether we are young or old, we need to acquire the knowledge to protect our transactions, our software, and our hardware, our identity and reputation. We therefore need to be familiar with the safety rules to protect our digital assets, our privacy and our transactions. Online security is not a choice anymore but a must for you and any online user!”
Director in the office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Manicaland Mr Ngorimana who was representing the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Manicaland, Hon. Sen. Dr. Ellen Gwaradzimba said on behalf of the Ministry,
“As a province, we are honoured to have been selected to have this event. Our children’s internet experiences are at times torrid and traumatic with instances of bullying, harassment and unwanted exposure to material that is sexual in nature. We are elated that the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services has taken this initiative that we are sure will make headway in protecting our digital landscape”.
Stakeholders from the telecommunications industry, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, higher education institutions in Manicaland, high schools and primary schools came out in their numbers to attend the lecture that was filled to capacity.
In response to the protection of children be it online, in schools, homes and the society at large and in an effort to enhance the study and research of childhood related trauma and impediments to development, the Africa University Child Rights Centre established in 2017 in partnership with UNICEF, has been at the forefront of this topical area of study leading the way towards a revolution in national and regional discourse on how we raise, engage, educate and look after our children throughout their journey from childhood to adulthood.
Africa University is distinctly proud to have broken ground in this field by being the first university in Zimbabwe and the region to offer the Master of Child Rights and the first to offer a Doctorate programme in the same to reinforce and add to the body of knowledge being generated globally from an African lens. Three areas form the pillars of the work that is done at this centre that include teaching and training, research and the eventual publication of works that will ultimately change the way the continent looks at issues surrounding Child Rights in an African context with a focus on violence against children, legal and policy analysis and child abuse indicators.
Presentations were given by childhood specialists and academics from UNICEF, the University of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services and the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit. Zimbabwe like many other countries in the region is in the process of harmonising its cyber security laws with those of the region to increase international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime (Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)).