Friday, December 15, 2017

A bridge to new opportunities: Timor-Leste youth celebrate landmark UNICEF report on the digital world

Marked the official launch of the State of the World Children’s Report 2017
by beating the drum by the dignitaries as part of the Timorese tradition.
©Timor-Leste/2017/bsoares
Snapshot: For students in Timor-Leste, access to the internet bridges the gap when their education and knowledge falls short. Inequality, access and online safety were identified as key priorities in UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a digital world report, launched on 13 December 2017. Hear how internet access is affecting children and young people in Timor-Leste now.

At the beating of the drum that marked the official launch of UNICEF’s new The State of the World’s Children report launch in Timor-Leste, a crowd of smartphones reached high above the crowd, arms outstretched and straining to get the best angle, flashes popping over the heads of the hunched scrum of official media. Before the event finished these images would flood Facebook, attracting hundreds of likes, reactions, and appreciative comments.

It’s unsurprising in a country with an estimated 400,000 active Facebook users, according to Facebook’s 2016 user data – around a third of the tiny island nation’s population.

But the new report, launched jointly by UNICEF, Timor-Leste’s Secretariat of State for Council of Ministers and Social Communication and the national university Universidade National Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) in Dili, the nation’s capital, highlights the growing digital divide between users in high and low-income countries, and explores the impact of the internet on children’s safety and wellbeing.

The launch was attended by Matias Freitas Boavida, Secretary of State for Council of Ministers and Social Communication; Nivio Leite Magalhães, Secretary of State for Youth and Employment; Professor Francisco Miguel Martins, the Rector of UNTL, and Dili school student Izaura da Silva Pinto.