Crucial to start young

  • Education
  • Sunday, 08 Oct 2017

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock

A TEACHERS’S duties must evolve to adapt to new situations that come with technological advancements.

If we don’t keep up, we’ll be left behind by the rest of the world, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) points out.

Welcoming any initiative that can help teachers prepare their charges for the future, NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock believes that to stay relevant, we must always be current when educating the youth.

Cyber security awareness, he suggests, can be incorporated into relevant subjects like civic education, or ICT studies.

“For example, cyberbullying is in essence a discipline problem. But teachers must be trained in the legal aspects of cyberbullying.

For Nick Foong, Generasi Gemilang’s head of Cyber Wellness, the definition of being addicted to gaming doesn’t depend on the number of hours spent playing, it relates to whether the habit is disrupting your normal life.
Nick Foong, Generasi Gemilang’s head of Cyber Wellness

“The cyber security awareness programme is good. Awareness among teachers – not only for sharing information with students, but also for their own knowledge, is important,” he says, adding that the are some 450,000 teachers nationwide.

All teachers should be Internet-savvy but unfortunately many a time, they themselves fall prey to online scammers, mainly due to greed and fear, he admits. The Education Ministry’s upcoming lesson modules will benefit teachers – especially those who are not tech-savvy, he points out.

“Spam, malware, and stalking, are among a host of terminologies that are malicious and must be learnt. These will also help prevent teachers and students from falling prey to cyber crimes and online fraud.”

He, however, feels such training must be done during school hours.

Lauding the ministry and CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) initiative, Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG), a foundation focused on improving the lives of under-served children, and families, by increasing their access to quality education, believes it’s an important recognition of the next generation’s needs.

Teachers and parents, GG director of services Nick Foong stresses, must be made aware of current cyber risks and how to handle them. And, given how quickly the cyber world evolves, it’s important for guardians, not only at home, but also at school, to be constantly updated on the latest happenings so that they’re able to properly mentor our next generation.

Collaborative efforts between the private, public and non-profit sectors, are crucial in overcoming ever-evolving cyber-risks, and creating greater awareness on digital safety and use, he offers.

“As the country’s cyber wellness pioneer, GG has been engaging children, parents and teachers in schools, B40 communities and institutions since 2008.

“We’re happy to support the Governme-nt’s new initiative if needed because our next generation will only benefit when all sectors take ownership of key social issues, and to do something about it together.

“This latest initiative is commendable because it reaches out to school children at a young age, which ensures greater, and more effective outcomes, in creating savvy and responsible online users,” he says.

He, however, believes that the initiative’s success is reliant on the trust, and relationship, that is built with students.

“Over a decade of working with youth from various backgrounds tells us that quality content – no matter how important the message, is not enough.

“When students experience genuine care, and feel our concern for their well-being, they’ll listen and apply the values and skills imparted. So, the stronger the relationship between teacher and student, the more able youths are in retaining what’s shared.”

And, when parents and teachers become role-models themselves, the impact can be greater. Healthy offline, and online lifestyle choices, begin at home. A strong family relationship to support the good work that teachers, and counsellors, are doing in school, is crucial, he feels.

Reminding parents on the need to keep updating themselves about emerging dangers and risks in the virtual world, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim notes how many still feel that their kids aren’t vulnerable to online threats like cyberbullying.

“Many think it won’t happen to their kids so they don’t bother learning about Internet safety. This mindset has to change,” she says, adding that the new modules play an important role in evolving the school curriculum.

“The ministry’s move to get parents and teachers involved in keeping kids safe online, is a great idea. We have to work together. Parents must make an effort to help make the lessons a success.”

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