CYBERJAYA: Pupils in rural schools perform just as well as their urban counterparts when it comes to computational thinking.
According to the digital competency standards test administered by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), there was no rural-urban gap, or even a gender gap, when it came to digital competency.
“Initially, you can say the rural pupils are not on a level playing field,” said MDEC vice-president for talent and digital entrepreneurship Sumitra Nair.
“But we found out that they actually catch on very quickly.”
The test was conducted after the new curriculum, which embeds computational thinking and computer science modules, was introduced in 25 schools in 2015.
“It will continue to be administered in batches after the curriculum is expanded to all schools this year,” Sumitra said.
She explained that the test was created to evaluate pupils in three domains: technology, cognitive and digital citizenship.
“The first one involves operations such as save, copy and paste.
“The second one is on problem solving.
“The third one is on doing the right things online – ethically, safely and responsibly.
“For example, crediting the source when you do a search; how to determine what is a credible source; when you share your information with others, and when you do not,” she said.
Sumitra said there was no major negative feedback since the curriculum was rolled out to all primary schools seven months ago.
“We have to adapt as we go along. As we learn what works and what doesn’t, we have to keep fixing it.
“What is most important is the commitment.
“The goal is to ensure our future generation is ready for the future workforce,” she said.
Sumitra added that apart from jobs in the ICT industry, doctors and even engineers would soon need to have advanced computational thinking skills.
“It is not going to be a silver bullet that will solve everything, but I think we have to make a start, and that is the important thing,” she said.
The MDEC has been working with the Education Ministry in incorporating computational thinking and computer science into the national school syllabus.
The move is to see schoolchildren learn what jobs like data scientists, app developers or systems engineers are all about and quash the old-school notion that money can only be made by lawyers, doctors and engineers.
The MDEC is committed to grooming and transforming Malaysians into a tech- savvy workforce to support the growth of a digital economy besides identifying and accelerating our local tech champions into global tech icons.