The DigCit SDG academy is an educational outreach project which aims to inspire, empower and engage educational sectors in Africa to use social media and information technology responsibly by contributing to the SDGs while advancing the inclusion of Digital Citizenship Education in schools. Run by Positive Youths Africa-PYA (www.positiveyouthsafrica.org) and partners like the Digital Citizenship Institute and Resource Inflow; the DigCitSDG Academy is being run in both Cameroon and Nigeria. But unlike the #DigiHaves which targets schools in the rural areas, DigCit SDG academy targets schools and institutions in urban areas which can boast of digital access.
Both advocacy campaigns which started even before the Digital Citizenship summit held in both Nigeria and Cameroon run side by side to ensure that all schools are not only exposed to the limitless opportunities that social media and technology offer but also are grounded on how to use these tools in a positive and responsible manner. Thus, through this campaign, we would reach out to 1000 Secondary schools and Universities ; 500 in Cameroon and 500 in Nigeria to raise awareness of Digital Citizenship and the SDGs while advocating to Ministries and leading academic institutions to consider including digital citizenship as part of school curriculum. We will inspire and engage students to take up their roles as digital citizens using the world’s most potent tool: technology , to contribute to the world’s most urgent needs: SDGs.
The digital era has seen an explosion of social media and networking sites like facebook, instalgram, twitter, myspace,amongst others. Statistics hold that 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking in the world.Moreover,social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep, poor academic performance and social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol (smartsocial.com).
While social media and technology bring forth countless blessings especially in the urban areas where it is available and accessible,cases of its misuse and abuse are so bad as to drown out all the positives. We are all too familiar with occurences of cyber-criminality, cyber-pornography, cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, identity theft, scamming, misinformation and the various shades of addictions that result from. While offline dangers are to be watched out for, online dangers should push us to further strengthen our guards as they expose our youths to even greater dangers at horrifying speed.There is therefore a great need to encourage,inculcate and entrench positive use of information technology and social media in particular amongst our teenagers and youths in general.
Given that academic institutions are one of the strongest shapers of youths, we launch the DigCit SDG academy campaign to achieve the following;
-To raise student awareness of digital citizenship and media literacy and ensure that students in the urban areas use the blessings of information technology for good .
-To raise awareness of the SDGs, encouraging students to make it their business to use social media/tehnology to contribute to the SDGs by sharing, donating or volunteering.
-To ensure that Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy become mandatory features from elementary to higher education of the African school system.Thus, after creating DigCit clubs, we will eventually expand digital citizenship from extra curricula to curricula departments of school.
- To invite students, teachers and the academic community in general to attend the upcoming DigCitsummits in both countries.
Long Term Impact
DigCit SDG academy would not only raise student awareness of digital citizenship and media literacy but also of the SDGs. It would stem the tide of abusive use of information technology and social media which is gaining grounds among youths and students. It will pave the way for digital citizenship to be included in both curricular and extra-curricula departments of schools at all levels and would guarantee quality education as a whole.