Plan ahead to meet educational needs of Generation Alpha

Secondary school students having a lesson with electronic devices in a classroom.
Secondary school students having a lesson with electronic devices in a classroom.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Singapore's decision to scrap streaming by 2024 is good news for many stakeholders (Streaming to be phased out by 2024, March 11).

It also raises questions about the role and nature of educational content post-streaming, and what is needed to prepare students for these changes.

Jumping ahead, 2024 is roughly around when Generation Alpha, or those born after 2010, will enter secondary school.

It will be the first generation faced with no streaming. This is also the generation that will have no idea what life was like without modern technology.

The changing needs and abilities of Gen Alpha are apparent.

Already, traditional literacy skills are being replaced by multi-modal literacy skills, which include the ability to interpret the visual.

It will be the first generation to compete with technology and the impact of artificial intelligence.

The traditional method of rote teaching by imparting knowledge, including spelling and grammar corrections, may be rendered obsolete due to the availability of such knowledge at one's fingertips.

To learn, Gen Alpha will need opportunities to interpret, imagine and innovate. Its classroom will not be limited to Singapore. Instead, it will require global engagement and need to be socially and emotionally attuned to issues of sustainability, cultural sensitivity and diversity.

Stakeholders need to come together in the present and start a dialogue on what is required to prepare content and programmes that are flexible enough to meet the educational needs of Gen Alpha.

Esther Joosa (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Plan ahead to meet educational needs of Generation Alpha'. Print Edition | Subscribe