Savai'i students learns about Cybersecurity

Students in Savai'i have the opportunity to explore their contributions to cybersecurity within Samoa as part of Samoa's Cybersecurity Week commemorations. 

This has been made possible by a partnership between the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (M.C.I.T.) and the Australian Government.

Held at the Apita o Pisaga Hall at Salelologa the event was guided by the theme: "Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility." 

The event was the continuation of Cybersecurity Week events that were launched last week in Upolu. 

But due to bad weather conditions, plans for Savai'i were postponed until this week. The event drew close to 100 students from schools across Savai'i. 

"Today is the continuation of our cybersecurity that we launched on Monday last week," Vui Susanna Stowers, Principal Policy Analyst (M.C.I.T). 

"With the kind assistance of the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs [and Trade], we're able to roll this out. 

"We wanted to target the youth because data from the World Bank shows that youth are increasing usage of social media platforms, and a lot of cybercrimes that are committed nowadays are through these social media platforms.

"We are now thinking of making it an annual event because cybersecurity is one of the most critical issues that we need to discuss especially with the growing reliance on ICT. Everything is now online. 

"Especially with the pandemic, we are relying on the internet."

Vui said they extended an invitation to all different schools in Savai'i to participate but prior commitments prevented others from attending:

"We tried to get all the schools in Savai'i, but most of them are engaged already with their school activities and curriculum. 

"We also have the Ministry of Women and Ministry of Education rolling out their programmes at the same time, but we are fortunate to have some students here with us today." 

The ultimate goal of the programme, Vui said, is to educate the youth so they can become cybersecurity ambassadors:

"We want to share with them the tools and the measures that they can share with others. 

"So we are trying to make it simple and easy for them so they can share with their friends, families, colleagues on how to stay safe online."

A senior English teacher from the Don Bosco Technical College, Mulipola Mose Tuafoe told the Samoa Observer that the event has been an eye-opener - not only for students but teachers. 

"When we first came in, we were not sure what it was all about," he told the Samoa Observer.

"But after a few presentations, I find this event very crucial, especially for our students nowadays. It raises awareness within schools and amongst youth on how to stay safe online. We need that. It's just easy when we are texting on messenger, but that's not the case. 

"That's why we need to take extra care when we are online and talking to other people online. 

"Some of the presentations conducted today have opened our students' eyes to the risks of being on social media and other platforms such as Tik Tok and Facebook. 

"They've been informed and taught about the negative impacts of Tik Tok and how it is not safe to use, and some students have asked questions in relations to these risks which I believe was very interesting because it shows that they are learning and they will be happy to share what they have learned with their friends and other students. 

"I have also learned a lot as an adult, and I am hoping to share all the things we have learned from the different presentations today with the rest of our students. 

"We will ask our school principal to allow us the opportunity to do a presentation on all the things we have learned today. We look forward to an educational programme again tomorrow, and the debate."

The programme's final day concluded Wednesday with a debate on the topic: "Should I.C.T. be integrated into primary and secondary schools? and Should children and adolescents be encouraged or discouraged from having social media profiles?"

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