KUALA LUMPUR ,Mar 9– Putrajaya must learn how private schools loan and maintain devices for their students, said an education group after the government failed to deliver the 150,000 laptops promised to poor students.

Although the delay in rolling out the devices is a let-down, Parent Action Group for Education president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim told The Vibes that the programme is “not a simple exercise, as it involves logistics and identifying which B40 students should receive them”.

Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz last year announced that RM150 million will be allocated for the laptop roll-out, to be financed by government-linked companies under the Cerdik initiative.

The handing out of the laptops came under the auspices of Yayasan Hasanah, the corporate social responsibility arm of government sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

The devices are to be loaned to students across 500 schools nationwide determined by the Education Ministry. 

The deadline was February, but the roll-out has yet to materialise.

To manage challenges, Noor Azimah said Putrajaya should learn from private schools – some of which loan iPads to each student for classroom use – where learning platforms are carefully curated.

“At the end of the day, the iPads are returned and students can have their own devices to be used at home.”

She said private schools, moreover, have designated IT departments, which review and recommend relevant learning programmes.

“They are also responsible for maintaining the iPads, so teachers are guided at all times without having to do everything on their own.”

Putrajaya’s inability to efficiently realise the programme has seen the government getting flak from opposition lawmakers, such as PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, who asked the Finance and Education Ministries to explain the delay and why the laptops are merely a “loan” rather than an outright donation to poor students.

Noor Azimah, however, said it “makes sense” for devices to be loaned out to deserving students, as maintenance and repairs can be costly.

“A free device that is not cared for properly often ends up being a white elephant, disposed of, or worse, sold off.”

She said desktop computers had been distributed unscrupulously in the past, when schools were racing to become smart schools.

“Some schools did not have enough computers to go around, while some had boxes of desktops lining their walls. Let us not repeat past mistakes.” – The Vibes


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