Education systems need to keep up with social media
They need to recognise the growing influence of social media and keep up with it, said the Education Minister
Social media is changing the way people receive and absorb information, and education has a part to play in addressing this challenge, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.
Although society has yet to find a solution to the ills of social media, education systems have to recognise its growing influence and "equip our young with the values, mindsets and skills to live in this digital world", he said.
Mr Ong also noted that, increasingly, people agree social media is "profoundly altering public discourse and the functioning of the democratic system".
Beyond social media, education systems are also confronted by two other challenges, he said.
These are: changing education to one that is lifelong and experiential, and changing society's perception that a university degree is the sole route to success.
Mr Ong was speaking on the final day of a two-day conference on political and societal changes in the Middle East, and whether the East Asian experience is relevant to the region.
Organised by the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute, the conference at Orchard Hotel was attended by 200 people, including educational leaders and academics from the Middle East and Asia.
Mr Ong, who was among four speakers, said social media has altered the trust relationships between the authorities and professionals, and the people they serve. He noted it can affect the socio-emotional well-being of Singapore's young.
But there is a way forward, said associate chair of research Alton Chua, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University.
The young need to be equipped with not only hard and soft skills to navigate a technologically connected world but also imbued with "values such as respect, honesty and love", he told The Straits Times.
Prof Chua also noted a convergence between social media and lifelong learning.
"The need to survive and even thrive in a capricious job market means we have to continually pick up new skills, and social media is the conduit to do so," he said, citing learning to do a task through a video tutorial.
Similarly, Mr Ong said employers today need talents who possess diverse skills that, when combined, can deliver results. "A degree will therefore not be the only proxy to skills. I suspect that over time, real experiences, internships, mentorships and micro-credentials may become closer proxies."
Deputy director-general of Singapore's Education Ministry, Ms Liew Wei Li, said a lesson for any education system is how to tie it to economic development and what the industry needs.
The ministry revises the curriculum, assessment system and teaching pedagogy in Singapore every six years, she said.
"(It's important that) you're not educating students based on purist disciplines, but on what the industries need... It's not what you know that's important, but what you do with what you know."