C3SA is currently conducting an NRF-funded research in the Western Cape and Limpopo to in rural and disadvantaged schools. Schools in these areas tend to be marginalised in terms of cybersecurity awareness and frameworks that provide guidelines of how to tackle cyber risks and threats. Our approach to developing this framework is wholistic. In addition to interviews and focus groups with school communities, we trained teachers, ran leaner competitions, and conducted awareness campaigns in selected schools. 

Rural schools stand to benefit from the use of Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning to complement traditional ways of teaching. However, this exposure through the Internet also exposes schools to a wide range of cyber threats and risks. The move to remote learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic may have further increased cybercrime exposure. The school is an institution often characterised by young and susceptible learners; educators operating under a culture of free information exchange of sensitive personally identifiable information about learners and other stakeholders in the school’s custody; or ever-increasing use of personal devices to access learning resources. All these offer multiple opportunities and avenues for cybercriminals to exploit. Rural and disadvantaged schools that are often under-resourced and less equipped to deal with the potential risks online may, therefore, be more disproportionately affected by cybercrime.

This study proposes to develop a cybersecurity framework that will be responsive to the needs of rural and disadvantaged schools in South Africa while providing an opportunity to raise the cybersecurity awareness and skills of both the learners and educators in these contexts. The study will produce a framework using the Design Science approach. It will draw the sample for the study from primary and high schools in rural and disadvantaged areas. The sample will be drawn from the Western Cape Province and the Limpopo Province. The duration of the study is three years (2022-2024).

By providing a means through which educators and learners in rural and disadvantaged schools can be safe online, the framework would increase the uptake of ICT for teaching and learning, thus reducing the digital divide between rich/urban and under-resourced schools. The research outputs from the project will also be disseminated in both the information systems and education fields, thus contributing to creating a cybersecurity research agenda in the education epistemic community.

The study is a collaboration of a team with research expertise in Cybersecurity, Education, ICT policy and Information Systems.



This is a research we do at an African regional level to help nation states improve their cyber resilience strategies. The Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model for Nations (CMM) helps nations understand what works, what does not work and why, across all areas of cybersecurity capacity. This is important so that governments and enterprises can adopt policies and make investments that have the potential to significantly enhance safety and security in cyberspace, while also respecting human rights, such as privacy and freedom of expression. The CMM considers cybersecurity to comprise five Dimensions which together constitute the breadth of national capacity that a country requires to be effective in delivering cybersecurity:

  • Dimension 1: Developing cybersecurity policy and strategy
  • Dimension 2: Encouraging responsible cybersecurity culture within society
  • Dimension 3: Building cybersecurity knowledge and capabilities 
  • Dimension 4: Creating effective legal and regulatory frameworks
  • Dimension 5: Controlling risks through standards and technologies.

In addition to the Southern African Development Community Cybersecurity Maturity assessment, we have reviewed Lesotho, Chad, Uganda, Seychelles, and Somalia.


Lesotho CMM Review 2022




In a time where technology and Internet connection are ubiquitous, children become vulnerable to cyber risks as they not aware of online safety.  In an increasingly interconnected digital landscape, the role of parents in guiding their children's online experiences has taken on unprecedented importance. As our society becomes progressively more reliant on technology for education, entertainment, and social interaction, the concept of "Proactive Digital Parenting" has emerged as a critical focus of research and practical concern. In our recent publication, we found that most South African parents are not aware of the various applications for protecting their children online. This is to say, despite parents giving their children mobile devices, the study found that parents were not proactive in monitoring and moderating screen time and online content. 

Factors Influencing the Use of Parental Control Software (PCS) Used by Parents in South Africa