The Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre initiated the Cyberscout Training Programme which uses peer-to-peer training methods for effectively popularizing the most dangeous online risks and the ways for combating them among 9-15-year-old Bulgarian children.
To this end 5th-graders from across Bulgaria undergo 2-day online safety trainings cunducted by the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre and later use the ackuired skills and knowledge to train their peers. With the financial support of Telenor Bulgaria and the help of the Ministry of Interior, by the end of 2018, a total of 45 Bulgarian towns have participated in the programme.
The mission of the Cyberscout Training Programme is to create a community of cyberscout children and young people across Bulgaria, who demonstrate self-developing, responsible, and safe online behavior and popularize it among their peer groups. The certified cyberscout is a trained student, who:
1) Is an example for responsible and safe online behavior for their peer group;
2) Gives advice to their peers regarding online-related problems.
3) Organizes and conducts public events regarding online safety targeted at their peers.
The methodology of the programme is built upon the principles of autonomy and experiential learning. During the first day of the training, through a supportive environment and interactive methods, the participants engage in a series of challenges, related to the main online risks and to the ways for combating them. After each challenge, the participants reflect on their experiences and apply what they have learned in the next challenge. During the second day of the training, the participants use their newly acquired skills and knowledge to enter role of cyberscouts by giving advice to their peers and organizing public events in simulated scenarios. In addition to these practical skills, the methodology also develops the teamwork and critical thinking skills of the participants.
The students who succesfully go through the programme receive certificates and are given the opportunity to participate in a national competition with the other trainees across the country for organizing and conducting a public event about the main online risks and the ways for combating them, targeted at their peers. The students divide into cyberscout squads in order to implement their projects. The squads compete with each other, even if there are more than one squad in a school. A special jury selects the three best projects and awards the participant cyberscouts during The Safer Internet Day event in Sofia in February of the next year. In addition to the competition, the cyberscout squads are invited to participate in monthly gamified missions, which further hone their skills as cyberscouts.
In 2015, the trainings were conducted in Smolyan, Vidin, Kula, Belogradchik, Bregovo, Shumen, Pleven, Milkovitsa, Cherven Bryag, Targovishte, Popovo, Antonovo, Omurtag, and Golyamo Gradishte. In 2016, the trainigs took place in Bozhurishte, Elena, Aheloi, Shabla, Panagyurishte, and Stara Zagora. The programme succesfully continues in 2017 in Pazardjik, Sofia, Oryahovo, Svishtov, Dalgopol, Rakovski, Radomir, Plovdiv, Elena, Belozem, and Kiustendil. In 2018, children from Sofia, Plovdiv, Karlovo, Kalofer, Koprivshtitsa, Asenovgrad, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Kubrat, Yambol, Dobrich, Gotse Delchev, Breznitsa, Ruse, Shumen, Targovishte and Silistra had been trained. The fifth season of the Cyberscout training programme has been launched in the begining of 2019. In the fifth season, 800 students from Axakovo, Sofia, Popovitsa, Plovdiv, Elin Pelin, Vratsa, Montana, Yakoruda, Septemvri, Staro Oryahovo, Zlatitsa, Kardzhali, Lyaskovets, Zlataritsa, Targovishte, Popovo, Troyan, Varna, Silistra, Pernik, and Ablanitsa joined the Cyberscouts' network. Despite the unprecedented pandemic situation, in 2020-2022, the Bulgarian SIC team strictly comlying with the anti-epidemic measures provided trainings in the village of Tarnava and the town of Dzhebel.