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Kharge unveils ‘Digital Nagarik’ to enhance cybersecurity awareness in Karnataka

Karnataka Minister for IT-BT Priyank Kharge on Thursday, 4 July, launched a one-of-its-kind digital awareness program in Bengaluru, aimed to train over 1 lakh teachers and 10 lakh students in digital safety and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR-VR) skills.

The state government, in collaboration with Meta, embarked on the initiative earlier this year, which aims to be completed by 2025.

The Digital Nagarik and AR-VR Skills Program was launched with participation from various departments of school education, higher education, and technical education, alongside various government officials and Meta representatives.

Notable attendees included Dr Ekroop Caur, Secretary, IT&BT, Government of Karnataka; Cavery, Commissioner, Public Instruction; Srikar MS, Principal Secretary, Higher Education Dept; Sindhu B Rupesh, Director, PU Board; Prianka Rao, Manager, Public Policy, India, Meta; and Shivang Raina, Manager, Public Policy, India, Meta.

This initiative marks Karnataka as the first Indian state to partner with Meta on a digital education and online safety program.

‘Instilling a mindset of vigilance, responsibility’
A Letter of Intent was signed in November 2023, cementing a two-year partnership aimed at providing digital awareness training to 10 lakh students aged 18-24 across various schools and PU colleges across the state, said a press release.

Meta will train master trainers across the schools, colleges and universities, who will in turn educate the students on digital safety knowledge and AR-VR skills, it said.

It is the first time that this initiative will also cover 100 colleges and universities from across the state, where students will act as master trainers and promote peer learning.

The program’s initial phase will cover Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kalburgi, Belagavi, and Dakshin Kannada, with the rest of the state to follow in subsequent phases.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Priyank Kharge emphasised the importance of the campaign, saying, “Today we embark on this crucial journey towards a Cyber Safe Karnataka. The Digital Nagrik Campaign is aimed at fortifying the minds of our young with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the complexities of the cyber world.”

He highlighted the need for grassroots-level cybersecurity education to protect students from evolving digital threats and instill a lifelong mindset of vigilance and responsibility.

“We are committed to empowering our students with the education they need to protect themselves from the ever-evolving threats that lurk in the cyber landscape. This campaign is not just about teaching our children how to create strong passwords or how to recognize phishing scams – it is about instilling a mindset of vigilance and responsibility that will stay with them for life,” the minister added.

Empowering students with digital skills
The comprehensive curriculum designed for this Digital Nagrik Program includes workshops, seminars, and hands-on activities, conducted in both Kannada and English to ensure accessibility.

These efforts aim to create well-informed citizens equipped with essential digital skills, enhancing both their personal safety online and professional capabilities, the press release said.

The launch event saw 500 participants, including nodal officers from the Departments of School Education, PU Board, Higher Education, and teachers from government schools designated as master trainers.

Following the launch, a 60-minute interactive training session covered key topics such as AI, AR & VR opportunities, and online safety, including deep fakes and misinformation in the Digital Age.

Equipping nodal officers and department staff with necessary skills and knowledge to effectively navigate and leverage the rapidly evolving technological landscape was the main agenda of the training session. PTI

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