One women and six youths sitting with a tablet.

Together for a safer internet: A partnership set for the future

8 minute read


Enabling participation for all

Include means that Telenor is committed to equality, by enabling connectivity for all and driving greater societal inclusion through it.

Accomplished achievements:

  • More than 25 million children, parents, and teachers reached with essential tips on being safe online through a large-scale national media campaign with the renowned characters Meena and Sabina

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative was instrumental in reaching children who were stuck at home with safety tips, as well as their parents and teachers through creative and educational learning materials

  • Improved access to the internet for adolescents from remote and disadvantaged areas through online life skills-based education in virtual adolescent clubs

  • A policy-level commitment made from the government to incorporate online safety measures in the national curriculum

  • Improved efficiency and an increase in reporting and referral services through the child helpline

Telenor Group and UNICEF have announced the renewal of their global partnership. The partnership will continue to focus on initiatives that empower societies, by promoting digital inclusion, increasing connectivity, and building skills for a digital future.

In 2014, Grameenphone, Telenor’s subsidiary in Bangladesh, launched their first online safety initiative for children. Titled “Be Smart Use Heart”, it was a small project aimed at raising knowledge about the digital opportunities and online safety among students, guardians, and teachers. Between 2014-2018, more than 130,000 students completed the programme.

After joining forces with UNICEF in 2018, the project accelerated. Leveraging UNICEF’s knowledge and ground presence, Grameenphone and UNICEF empowered over 2.5 million students through digital training and face-to-face sessions in classrooms.

“At UNICEF we know that bridging the digital divide and utilising digital tools are game changers. Telenor Group offers valuable insight on technology and the digital world. Mobile technology has proven to be very important to help vulnerable groups access information and educational programs that prepare them for what the digital space has to offer,” says Camilla Viken, Executive Director at UNICEF Norway.

Students at the Be Smart Use Heart Seminar
Grameenphone and UNICEF empowered over 2.5 million students.

A multi-pronged approach to online safety

With COVID-19 further highlighting the necessity of connectivity, “Be Smart Use Heart” became even more relevant as the pandemic pushed education from classroom to platform.

This shift makes parents, guardians and teachers even more crucial to the success of the initiative. Given their level of influence, it is important for parents and caregivers to understand the potential of the internet and provide their children with access to digital learning opportunities.

“We quickly saw that our initiative contributed to a shift in the teacher’s, policy makers and parents’ perception of the internet. Furthermore, the children had the necessary skills to stay safe and use the internet to their advantage,” says Rasna Hasan, Head of Online Safety, Global Partnerships, and Strategic Projects at Grameenphone.

In addition to students, the initiative also trained parents, guardians and teachers on child online protection and the benefits of the internet. Through an integrated communication campaign, the programme each year reaches approximately 25 million people.

Rasna Hasan
Rasna Hasan, Head of Online Safety, Global Partnerships, and Strategic Projects at Grameenphone.

Important to continue dialogue with policy makers

Through dialogue and interaction, the Government of Bangladesh recognises Telenor and UNICEF as thought leaders. As a result of the long-standing efforts, the initiative is expected to be adopted into the Bangladesh school curriculum by 2023, ensuring online safety education to all children in Bangladesh.

It is imperative to keep the dialogue and discussion about online safety with the policy makers alive. Grameenphone and UNICEF regularly meet with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and other relevant stakeholders to discuss progress and further development.

“Every day is a day to stay safe online. It is our responsibility to remind ourselves and our children to maintain a balance between caution and curiosity online. That is what we do at Grameenphone. Educate and remind to have fun, learn, and take a positive role in making online experience fun for everyone,” Hasan summarises.

Students taking the "Be Smart Use Heart" online safety course.
Students taking the "Be Smart Use Heart" online safety course.

We have reached our goals, but the work is not done

Telenor has committed to supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as reflected in the company’s business strategy and purpose. Telenor see their business operations as intertwined with their commitment to society and have maintained their digital responsibility to empower societies by promoting digital inclusion, increasing connectivity, and building skills for a digital future. The partnership with UNICEF is an integral part of this commitment.

“The partnership between Telenor and UNICEF has had high impact since it launched in 2014. With the new agreement, we will continue to develop and deliver global projects that leverage Telenor’s digital knowhow to empower societies and enhance children and youths’ skills for a digital future,” says Cecilie Heuch, Executive Vice President and Head of Group People and Sustainability at Telenor.

“We have reached our initial goals, but the work is not done. Together, Telenor and UNICEF will continue to utilise our core expertise to reduce inequalities and empower young people in our communities,“ Heuch ends.

Read also: Telenor and UNICEF Ensuring Future Skills for All

The online safety initiative “Be Smart Use Heart” is a partnership between Telenor Group and UNICEF. UNICEF implements the initiative and hires the organisations that provide face to face training to the children and young people. Telenor Group assists with technical support, communication support, campaign support, funds, and resources.

Together, Telenor and UNICEF develop training modules, material, applications and provide training to the assisting organisations.

The adolescent training is conducted by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. UNICEF provides training to ministry employees.