National digital literacy programme has enabled students to have access to digital devices amid COVID-19: Halimah Yacob
SINGAPORE: The Education Ministry's (MOE) National Digital Literacy Programme (NDLP) has enabled students to have access to digital devices amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Halimah Yacob said on Tuesday (Jan 25).
Speaking during a visit to Pasir Ris Secondary School, she said the personal learning devices have helped students "greatly" to access digital information in "so many different ways".
On her visit to the school, Madam Halimah was given an overview of its technology plan, cyber-wellness programmes and rollout of the NDLP.
Under the NDLP, all secondary school students became owners of a personal learning device in 2021. This was rolled out in two phases, at 86 schools in Term 2 and 66 schools in Term 3.
The roll-out was made seven years ahead of the original target announced by former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at 2020’s committee of supply debates.
“And the good thing is also for students who can’t afford it, they’re able to access (it). Their financial prohibitions are not an area where it will affect their ability to access digital programmes. I think that’s really very good,” said Mdm Halimah.
Digital literacy is “very important” not only for the learning, development and growth of students, but for them to integrate into society after they leave school, she added.
With technology, students can also seek help online for their mental well-being, said Mdm Halimah.
Stressing the importance of mental resilience throughout life, the President said the COVID-19 pandemic has “exacerbated” the situation, particularly for students who are studying and struggling with other issues in their lives.
“Because of isolation, the fact that you cannot tap on your usual social networks physically – it does have an impact. (For) mental resilience through technology, when students have any problems, they can go online, then they can get someone to respond to the problems that they have,” said Mdm Halimah.
“I think that's really important, because there is then someone they can talk to, they can relate to, someone they can seek help from. So that in a way helped them to get through this period.”
She also stressed the growing importance of cyber wellness.
MOE rolled out a new character and citizenship education curriculum to lower secondary students in 2021. It was extended to upper secondary students this year.
“It's not just a question of knowing how to access the different apps, use the computer to access information, but also it’s to know what is the information that is out there,” said Mdm Halimah.
Online users need to process this information, and may need people who can tell them that some of this information is not safe or may be detrimental, she added.
For example, one of the activities at Pasir Ris Secondary School helps students to identify problems they may face when they share information on websites or social networking platforms like Instagram and Facebook “without thinking carefully”, she noted.
Excessive gaming has also “become quite a serious problem” globally and in Singapore, said Mdm Halimah.
Children and students should be taught about the dangers of excessive gaming, which “can become a problem”, she added.
“Teaching our students or young people about the importance of accessing information, being on social media, Internet, but yet using it safely and responsibly, is important,” said Mdm Halimah.
“Being a responsible user, you know that you don't want to use that platform in order to cause harm to others.
"And raising your awareness to the potential of causing that harm is important so you become more responsible, so the place that you're leveraging on the Internet is safe for others as well as for you.”