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Alongside parents, educational institutions also had the responsibility to ensure children’s online education and safe internet during corona times, observed member of the parliamentary standing committee of the education ministry Fazle Hossain Badsha. He said that this called for an integrated plan of action.

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Chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), Shyam Sundar Sikder, said that internet control could be installed for free in the devices used by children, through the internet service providers. Most parents were unaware of this.

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Director general of the secondary and higher secondary education directorate, Syed Golam Faruk, said that even after the pandemic was cleared, technology-based education would remain. The time had come to include students on project-based initiatives.

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In the opening statement of the event, UNICEF Bangladesh’s child protection specialist Shabnaaz Zahereen said that children living in the remote areas must have access to internet and it must also be ensured that all children can use the internet correctly and safely.

Lead of Grameenphone’s Sustainability Project, M Hafizur Rahman Khan, presented the results of an online survey conducted jointly by UNICEF Bangladesh, Grameenphone and Telenor. He pointed out that one third of the parents did not personally know their children’s online friends. A total of 2,381 respondents took part in this survey on ‘Parents role in children’s online safety’, conducted in January through Prothom Alo’s digital platform.

UNICEF Bangladesh’s country representative Tomoo Hozumi said that cyber bullying and harassment had a serious impact on children’s minds. These risks were increasing along with the spread of internet.

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Grameenphone’s CEO Yasir Azman said from 2018, Grameenphone and UNICEF have provided one million children with information to create awareness concerning internet safety.

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Also speaking at the dialogue were Bangladesh Television’s deputy director general Syeda Tasmima Ahmed, Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s additional deputy commissioner (intelligence analysis wing) Mahfuza Lisa, coordinator of the social welfare directorate’s child helpline 1098, Mohammad Mohaimen, and senior teacher of Bangladesh International School and College, Hasina Mustafiz. The programme was moderated by journalist Firoz Choudhury.

The sole youth representative at the programme was resident of Barishal’s sadar upazila, Bithi Akhter. A video on online safety, based on the Meena cartoon, was screened at the event.

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