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KUCHING, Oct 15: The Federal Government’s Cerdik initiative to provide digital access for home-based learning (PdPR) by providing free laptops to 150,000 students from B40 families across the country has failed at the expense of many students all around the country.
In pointing this out, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen said that as a result, many of them will be left behind and have difficulties in catching up once schools reopen, which may widen the education gap between the poor and the rich, including those in urban and rural areas.
He said not only were the 150,000 laptops delivered very late, but it was clearly insufficient to address the urgent needs of students that need such laptops to follow home-based learning.
“As of Sept 25 this year, there are still 33,264 units of laptops and tablets that have yet to be delivered even though this initiative was announced in November 2020.
“Because of this delay, many of these 150,000 students on top of other students who do not have proper gadgets or even an internet connection, have missed out on more than a years worth of school education,” he said in a statement today.
He said for the constituency of Bandar Kuching, out of the 150,000, only 92 gadgets were delivered to the whole constituency and only for one school, which is 0.06 per cent of all the laptops even though Bandar Kuching is one of the biggest constituencies in terms of population in the whole country.
“Is this fair when by average if divide 150,000 to a total of 222 constituencies, each constituency is supposed to get about 675 gadgets or laptops. Fact of matter is, I was informed that certain constituencies get as much as a few thousand laptops.
“While I understand certain constituency may require more especially in the rural areas, but just because my constituency is in the city, does not mean it there is no urgent needs especially among the urban poor,” he added.
According to Dr. Yii, there are a total of 11 government secondary schools (SMK), 25 primary (SK) and 9 government Chinese assisted schools (SJKc) in the constituency of Bandar Kuching.
Based on the answer that he obtained from Parliament, he said, only 1 secondary school was provided with all the 92 gadgets, and this is clearly not only not fair for the other schools, but more importantly, the amount is severely insufficient to cover the needs of the poor students in Bandar Kuching.
“This is why I urged the government to distribute much more laptops and gadgets for the students in Bandar Kuching constituency. They must also answer what are their plans for the other schools in my constituency and are they qualified to also receive laptops and gadgets under this Cerdik initiative.
“If so, and they have yet to receive it, what are the procedures for them to apply as I am sure there are needy students in every school that do not have a proper computer,” he said.
He further mentioned that some families may only have one gadget which may belong to one of their parents. In many cases, the parents need it for their work and their children can only use them after work and will miss out on classes. —DayakDaily