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SecDev Foundation Funds Digital Citizenship Symposium in Hanoi, Vietnam

Digital Citizenship on the Agenda following Vietnam’s Safer Internet Day 2017 

The SecDev Foundation supported a symposium on digital citizenship in Hanoi on 22 February 2017, bringing together national and international experts to discuss the state of digital literacy education in Vietnam.

The Symposium on Digital Citizenship and Safer Internet Day 2017 was hosted by the Vietnam Internet Association (VIA) and organized by Vietnet-ICT, a nongovernmental organization active in ICT programming. VIA is Vietnam’s industry association for telecommunications and internet companies.

The Symposium brought together 80 participants from government, NGOs and the media to discuss digital citizenship – a new concept in Vietnam, where digital literacy education is in its infancy and is not yet included in the formal education system.

UNESCO’s Maria Melizza Tan introduced the participants to a UNESCO program for the Asia-Pacific regional called ‘Fostering Digital Citizenship through Safe and Responsible Use of ICT.” The program provides member countries with a range of policy and practice guidelines, including developing a digital guide for educators on how to build students’ digital citizenship skills.

Davis Vu, Creative Director at DQ Institute at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, spoke about the need to start young and educate primary school students on the components of digital citizenship.

The DQ Institute has created a gamified digital citizenship learning course that has been translated into several languages and starting in March 2017 will be introduced into schools in countries including Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Australia and the United States.

Also participating in the event were national experts and policy-makers, including a presentation by Mr Nguyen Thanh Hai, Director of the Ministry of Information and Communication’s Information Security Department. Following Mr Hai, a panel of NGO and business leaders discussed their ideas on how to strengthen digital literacy education.

Mr Vu Hoang Lien, host of the symposium and chairman of the Vietnam Internet Association, said: “the feedback from the event participants was very positive. The state officials who attended encouraged us to continue with this work.”

Mr Lien noted that building up a body of training documents (in Vietnamese) was a current need, and that VIA is eager to collaborate with others on this effort.

Ms Nguyen Thu Hue, executive director of Vietnet-ICT, said “our goal now should be to build a multi-stakeholder coalition to work on digital citizenship and online safety. We will write a policy brief as a result of this symposium, and submit it to MIC (the Ministry of Information and Communications).”

Melizza Tan of UNESCO noted that “the Vietnamese are very focused on cyber security” but that other elements of digital citizenship also need to be addressed in campaigns and education programs targeting youth. The DQ Institute concurs, and Davis Vu spoke of the need for a holistic approach starting at a young age – leaving youth with eight core skills for digital citizenship (understanding and managing online identities, privacy, critical thinking, digital footprints, digital empathy, cyber security, cyberbullying, and screen time management).

The SecDev Foundation, since January 2015, has implemented digital safety campaigns targeting youth in Vietnam, including the innovative, celebrity-led ‘Chong Hack’ campaign against Facebook hacking, and Safer Internet Day 2017.

Pictures of Safer Internet Day in Vietnam