Islamabad : The National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) with support from Google.org and Google’s philanthropic arm, launched on Wednesday the ‘Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast’ project in an online event held in connection to Safer Internet Day 2022.
The project is meant to contribute towards a Digitally Literate and Safe Pakistan.
The ‘Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast’ project are poised to train 18,000 rural women from all over Pakistan to use Internet and digital technologies to enhance their quality of lives.
In addition, 25,000 schoolchildren (adolescent boys and girls) will be educated regarding the safe and positive use of digital technology and how to be ‘safe internet explorers.’
Speaking during a keynote address for the digital launch, Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, highlighted the importance of technology during the pandemic.
“As we embrace online life, we have understood that the Internet is a powerful tool with enormous opportunities for learning, enhancing skills and acquiring new abilities and knowledge, as highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
He also reiterated the government’s commitment to bridge the digital divide and provide Internet to everyone.
CEO NRSP Rashid Bajwa while introducing the Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast programmes said that despite rapid advancements in internet access in Pakistan, particularly via mobile internet use, which has nearly doubled from 2018-2020, the digital divide between men and women remains a concern.
He said while the elimination of the digital divide must be a priority in the nation’s efforts to increase internet access, these efforts must also consider the disproportionate vulnerabilities of children and the digitally disadvantaged from the internet.
Farhan Quraishi, Regional Director for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka said, “We are confident that our initiatives will help the women and youth of Pakistan not only learn digital skills but also explore the online world “
NRSP Chairman Shoaib Sultan Khan said a long-term strategy is needed to close the digital divide and address the issue of offline inequalities .