Revolutionising digital edu


 Malaysia’s Education Ministry has paved the way for the nation’s digital transformation through the recently approved National Digital Education Policy.

With 31% of the country’s 34 million people comprising schoolgoing children and youths aged five to 24, the effort to review the current digital state of the population is a timely move.

The National Digital Education Policy outlines the key objectives of reducing the digital gap among schools, improving infrastructure, and streamlining the digital ecosystem while enhancing digital-based learning to meet the future information and communications technology (ICT) needs of the nation.

Nevertheless, as the digital landscape shifts, radical implementation needs to be in place if the policy is to be effective in achieving its purpose.

Knowledge at your fingertips: The Education Ministry should implement BYOD practices to promote a learning-centric classroom. — 123rf.comKnowledge at your fingertips: The Education Ministry should implement BYOD practices to promote a learning-centric classroom. — 123rf.com

Bring your own device (BYOD)

According to Digital 2023: Malaysia, the youth are among the biggest consumers of digital technology where the Internet penetration rate stands at 96.8% of the total population.

While the current policy and Budget 2024 have made allocations for gadgets and the upgrading of Wi-Fi in schools, this will take time. These measures alone will also not suffice to meet the growing needs of our digital natives.

Although there have long been heated debates on the allowance of handphones, laptops and other devices in school, the recent Unesco Global Education Monitoring Report titled “Technology in Education – A tool on whose terms?” indicates that this is an area in urgent need of global review.

The objective of this report was in line with Unesco’s monitoring and reporting of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on Quality Education.

As such, the ministry should take bold steps to implement BYOD practices as it is imperative to support the inclusion of digital devices as a means to promote a learning-centric classroom environment. With individual students having access to gadgets and information at their fingertips, this policy will enable scalability and sustainability in education while creating lifelong learners.

Curricular shifts and reviews

All subjects need to be enhanced and embedded with elements of digitalisation for a sound technological driven curriculum which encompasses effective pedagogical designs for collaborative learning.

To begin, the current ICT syllabus content needs to be modified and enhanced to include other elements surrounding digitalisation such as:> Cybersecurity awareness Given the importance of digital security, there are efforts to increase cybersecurity awareness and digital hygiene among the general population. This includes educating the public of the risks of online scams, phishing and malware.

> Online safety Ensuring online safety and responsible digital behaviour is a part of digital literacy education. This includes teaching topics such as protecting personal information and privacy online.

> Digital citizenshipStudents must learn about responsible digital citizenship, including online etiquette, ethical behaviour, and respecting digital rights and privacy. This knowledge is essential for a thriving and safe digital society.

> Cyber well-being Incorporated in Singapore’s digital education system, this element creates awareness about the impact of prolonged exposure to digital technology on mental health, types of online addictions, overusage of social media spaces, steps for self-regulated usage and the available support.

The syllabus should be reviewed every two to three years as opposed to the current five to six years as the digital landscape evolves rapidly with technological advancements.

Digital skills are critical not only for individual empowerment, but also for economic development and competitiveness in the global digital economy.

As technology continues to play an increasingly prominent role in various aspects of life, Malaysia’s focus on promoting digital education is a positive step towards ensuring its citizens are prepared for the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age.

Prema Ponnudurai heads the Taylor’s University School of Media and Communication. She is the deputy director of the Education for All Impact Lab. A graduate of English Literature (Hons) from the University of Buckingham, England, she holds a Master of English as a Second Language (MESL) from Universiti Malaya. She has over two decades of experience in the fields of teaching and learning, leadership and administration, and is an alumna of the US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She has also completed a fellowship as a visiting scholar at New York University. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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