The latest draft of Australia’s proposed primary school curriculum includes lengthy descriptions of cybersecurity education for kids aged five to 16 and how the government plans to help them navigate an increasingly online world.
The proposal suggests starting with five-year-old kids, the first year of schooling for the majority of Australian children, teaching them not to share personal information such as their date of birth or full names.
In the second year of their cyber schooling, six- and seven- year-old kids will be educated about pop ups, online competitions and spam. This will include “developing appropriate techniques for managing data, which is personal, and effectively implementing security protocols.”
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Then in later years, they will then learn what personal and location data is saved and stored by online service providers and how this might reveal their identity to unscrupulous actors.
The proposal also discusses educating children in “the use of nicknames and why these are important when playing online games.”
Before the end of their primary education, under the proposed plan, children will learn about “responding respectfully to other people’s opinions even if they are different from personal opinions.”
The new draft curriculum has also culled some 20% of existing material, which has been criticized as redundant in the 21st century, where digital skills and competence are more important than ever before.
The governmental consultation process is already underway but it remains to be seen whether future generations of Australian children will truly become well-versed digital natives as envisioned by the plan.
Australia’s curriculum is developed by the federal government but enacted at a state and territorial level. In other words, even if the cybersecurity-focused curriculum is enacted, local education boards may still opt for their own curricula.
Were it to be enacted, Australia would become one of the first countries in the world to formally educate its children in basic cybersecurity, including how best to assess potentially unsafe apps, manage their data privacy and avoid the pitfalls of online scams.
Amid already increasing digitization of everyday life, which was then amplified by online learning from the onset of the global pandemic, cybersecurity education will likely enter many curriculums around the world in the coming decades.
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