The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recently issued a circular to all schools ‘for safe and effective use of internet and digital technologies in schools and school buses‘. The guidelines have listed a slew of measures such as installing effective firewalls, filtering and monitoring software mechanisms, deploying digital surveillance system and allowing children to access only pre-selected websites appropriate to their age group, among others.
The decision was taken days after the government issued direction to internet majors for removing links of the deadly Blue Whale Challenge – an online game in which the final task requires the player to kill self. Schools need to promote a safe and secure educational environment for effective teaching and learning and to discourage students from actions detrimental to themselves, their peers and the value system. The circular ‘Guidelines for Safe and Effective Use of Internet and Digital Technologies in Schools and School Buses’ has been issued to all the 18,000 affiliated schools across the country.
CBSE has also banned carrying electronic communication devices, including those that can store, record, play audio-visual content; transmit or receive images; or provide unfiltered connection to the internet such as iPads, DVD/ CD players, game consoles, handheld PC, smartphones, laptops, tablet or any other gadgets with similar capabilities in school and school bus without prior permission and verification of school authorities.
The schools have also been asked not to allow accounts for fictitious children or groups and avoid digital as well as video images of individual students/ teachers on school websites for safety of children. Apart from being asked to use only the licensed version of software, schools have also been advised to draft a policy on the safe use of electronic devices and implement it.
The measures include making children use internet at highly-visible areas of the school, sensitize parents about internet safety norms and take strict disciplinary action against those who attempt to bypass filtering or to access inappropriate material.
The circular said that if children use internet without safety awareness, they may fall prey to illegal activity or abuse such as cyber bullying, fraud or something even worse. The guidelines also state that the mobile phones in school buses should be made available to deal with emergency situations, but should be of basic model without internet facility and data storage.