E-LEARNING GOOD BUT MALAYSIAN USERS, CRITICS LAMENT PRACTICALITY AND COSTS
By : Quek Yiing Huey
programme has come in for some flak due mainly to the costs involved. - The
Malaysian Insider pic Nazir Sufari, August 4, 2013.Malaysia's ambitious
e-learning programme for primary and secondary schools has been hailed as a
leap forward by some teachers and students but questioned by critics for its
practicality and, in particular, costs since it started last year.
is operated by YTL Comms, which won a tender to provide the virtual learning
programme through its YES 4G broadband network across the country.
Ministry has said the initial phase to bring technology to education costs
RM663 million but earlier reports had put it at RM1.5 billion. Coupled with the
ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) Election 2013 promise to provide 10 million
laptops to students, the cost will scale up in future phases, critics said.
shift enables the students to be more competitive as they have the chance to
access information using the internet now," said Maizatul Akma Kamarudin,
a teacher at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Keramat, just a stone's throw from
Selangor’s famous fireflies’ colony in Kuala Selangor.
school was one of the first few schools to be installed with the 1BestariNet's
FrogAsia Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which runs on a cloud-based system.
Maizatul Akma said students in her rural school can only access the e-learning
programme in the school's computer lab as they do not have computers at home
and internet access is limited.
And due to
Kuala Selangor’s location away from the city, the internet connection
experiences occasional disruption, causing inconvenience to the e-learning
program, she said.
Ministry of Education has done is very good, but I would prefer them to focus
more on rural areas because unlike city folks, most of the people here don’t
have the privilege of buying gadgets,” she added.
As the school
already had a computer lab since 2010, it was not provided with any
Chromebooks. But Maizatul Akma was hopeful the students might receive them if
the school scores high marks in VLE usage.
possible as the notebook has built-in 4G connectivity that can access the YTL
Comms YES network but neither the Education Ministry nor the operators have
explained whether the students without internet access at home would have to
pay charges to use the commercial network.
seized on this fact, noting the government is buying 116,399 units of the
Samsung Chromebooks that cost RM1,255 each for 2,002 schools but with no
details on a data plan. The laptop costs only RM988 with a data plan in YES
stores which critics say meant bulk sales should be cheaper rather than above
than looking at these scores, the Ministry should consider the background of
these children instead.
urban areas can spend more time on the VLE as they have access to internet at
home, but most of the people here are either fishermen or farmers who can’t
afford that, so it doesn't seem fair,” Maizatul lamented.
still hard for parents of this background to accept the idea of their children
using gadgets for educational purposes. There is a mentality gap between the
rural and housing areas even in Kuala Selangor itself," the primary school
VLE is a good idea but the implementation is a problem as the VLE can’t be
fully utilised,” said a vernacular school teacher in Kuala Lumpur who declined
to be named due to the issue’s sensitivity.
the school children live in low-cost flats so they don’t have computers at
home. If this problem exists even in cities, what about rural areas? What about
Sabah and Sarawak?"
MP Zairil Khir Johari (pic) has questioned the justification of the project’s
practicality and cost.
looks structured to fit the cronies,” said Zairil.
RM1,255 as “overpriced”, he said that the Ministry could have settled for an
amount lower than the retail price of RM988 for the same device, considering
the amount of laptops that it is ordering.
“In the end, it
boils down to the teachers’ capability,” he said before going on to state the
previous e-learning system for PPSMI which failed because of the teachers’
standard of English.
“In a country
where the teachers can’t even teach English, how are they going to conduct the
VLE?” the first-term Bukit Bendera MP asked.
Ministry officials were mum on details of the project.
former deputy education minister Datuk Ir. Dr. Wee Ka Siong only said, “This
(1BestariNet program) was after GE-13… (it's) not something that I know
of" despite the project's start in October 2012, seven months before the
Minister P. Kamalanathan did not reply to calls made by The Malaysian Insider.
- August 4, 2013 (TheMalaysianInsider)