25 February 2019 - For many educators around the world, some of the most satisfying moments in their work occur just after having taught or explained a fact, concept or idea to a child, and being rewarded with a look of amazement and understanding, especially in a setting designed exclusively to enhance children's knowledge.
One such place is the Tin Marín Children's Museum, one of San Salvador's best-known institutions which every year welcomes over 200,000 children. Walking through its bright and colourful rooms, children visit exhibitions on subjects as varied as geography, health, commerce or safety, to mention but a few. Supporting them in this learning experience, qualified volunteer guides accompany these children on their journey through knowledge, mixing learning with entertainment, and creating unforgettable experiences. Beatriz Ungo de Quirós, President of the museum's Board of Directors which manages the non-profit institution, explained: "It's not a place where you just come to play. It's not a playground. It is something that has a positive impact, especially on young children. I've seen kids who are now 15, 20, telling me I will never forget the time I went to the museum, it was the best experience in my life."
Tin Marín was an obvious partner for the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative and its innovative educational tools and resources, and this collaboration has led to a new exhibition on a highly topical subject which concerns all children: cybercrime. Conceived and designed by E4J, a component of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, the exhibition raises children's awareness and prepares them to recognize and to confront different types of online crimes and misdemeanours. In today's increasingly connected word, it has become crucial to impart on children what being online could mean, and the subject has been an integral part of E4J's work around the world, including with the youngest ages at the primary level.
The exhibition, which will be in place for at least three years under the guidance of 60 especially trained guides, showcases a variety of tools developed by E4J, including the animated series The Zorbs (which develops young people's critical thinking, empathy, teamwork, and conflict resolution), and the book The Online Zoo (which encourages children with positive messages about how to deal with the different challenges they face online).
The launch of this unique exhibition was attended by numerous stakeholders of all ages, including the office of the Mayor of San Salvador, the Embassy of the State of Qatar, multinational mobile operator Telefónica, UNODC officials, and, most importantly, 150 excited children who were treated to a special live performance of The Online Zoo, in an original theatre version of the book.
Tariq Othman Al-Othman, Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of Qatar in San Salvador, remarked on the wide reach and effect this initiative and others in this domain can have on society at large: "It's an important subject, and when you think of it, it improves the whole community. It is crime fighting, but in a different way. You need to be highly involved and concentrate on children."
In addition to the activities organized in its San Salvador base, the Tin Marín museum also has a mobile programme which takes exhibitions - including this one - around the country, reaching thousands more. Martha, an experienced guide who has been working at the museum for 15 years, was particularly eager to start taking children through E4J's exhibition. "This exhibition is really different, it's another way to teach and to sensitize the children about abuse on the internet. Many children have access to a tablet, a computer or a phone, but without adult supervision, so it's important they know about the risks of Internet."
To further extend the reach of this message, and to support the exhibition, the City of San Salvador will feature exhibition-related advertising on billboards and bus stops around the city for two months, as part of its cooperation with UNODC, and in recognition of the importance of this emerging line of education.
Under the slogan ' Enjoy and take care of yourself on the Internet,' the exhibition is part of a nationwide cybercrime prevention strategy campaign run by the Ministry of Education of El Salvador, with the support of E4J. Through various audio-visual and printed resources, the awareness raising and educational campaign will cover six thematic areas: cybersecurity, Internet privacy, sexting, grooming, sextortion, and cyberbullying.
The campaign also includes specialized training for teachers (with the help of two guides developed especially for this purpose) on cybercrime prevention and on how to use various resources - such as the video game ' Chuka, Break the Silence' (which helps children fight gender-based violence). In addition, permanent exhibitions will be installed at the Ministry's Interactive Centres for Science Learning, and cultural activities will be organized and promoted to spread the message of prevention to thousands of visitors, adult and children alike.
E4J will be gradually expanding the geographical scope of this initiative, with the same exhibition scheduled to open in Guatemala in April 2019.
Education for Justice