It is heartening that as a society we are seeking to increase the chances of success and uphold the value of social mobility. However, I do have some misgivings about the plan to give out personal tablets or laptops to all students by the end of next year (Each secondary student to get learning device by next year, June 18).
It is undeniable that the use of technology has to be incorporated in schools and our students have to learn to be tech savvy. To this end, giving out a piece of hardware is but the first step.
During the recent circuit breaker period and roll-out of home-based learning, we saw many concerned citizens step up to enable students from poorer homes to have a computer to use. This level of active citizenry needs to be encouraged.
When the Government steps in so quickly, the ground initiative can be doused.
Additionally, my son’s school has been using Chromebook and the experience has been challenging to say the least. The school’s IT department simply cannot manage all the ways these children abuse the computers for games and online activity (as they seem to know how to hack the system).
The Education Ministry should look at the issue more comprehensively.
First, we need to have the pedagogy prepared. So many teachers already struggle with home-based learning, and not all are inclined to using technology for lessons. Teachers also need to know how to use technology as an effective medium of learning.
Second, schools need to have IT departments that are a step ahead of the children so as to minimise disciplinary issues. We are all familiar as adults with how technology can be a menace, and how Wi-Fi and other disruptions can affect our work.
Finally, we need to help parents know what it means to let a child have a tablet or laptop, and how that may affect literacy and interpersonal skills.
I hope that the Ministry of Education will reconsider this move and study it more thoroughly.
To simply offer a tablet or laptop to students, whether they need it or not, will generate a lot of waste. The ministry could tie up with vendors to offer vouchers to families that truly need the products.
Ho Yim Tee