GEORGE TOWN, Nov 19 — Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has asked Putrajaya to review the country’s education system in light of the new normal so that students without access to online facilities are not left behind.

He said the education system must adapt to the new normal for classes to continue.

“All sectors are adapting to the new normal, so it is time that the education system also adapts to the new normal so that lessons are not stopped completely,” he said during a press conference at his office today.

He said underprivileged students, especially in the B40 group, will likely not have access to online learning as they might not have the necessary devices or internet connection.

He said such students will miss out if classes are conducted online.

“This is why we started this programme to refurbish old computers and give them to B40 students so that they can join online classes,” he said.

He said the state has given over 1,000 of these computers to students but that it was not enough.

“We hope the federal government can do more to resolve this issue for all affected students in the country,” he said.

State exco Chong Eng said more than 30 per cent of students don’t have access to online learning.

She said it is time that the Education Ministry consider changing the way physical classes are held in schools, such as smaller groups or new ways of teaching, instead of closing schools and relying on virtual classes.

“Students without internet access or computers will lose out. It will be very hard for them to catch up. They have already missed most of this year,” she said.

Earlier, Chow said the state’s e-learning computer task force has refurbished 250 units of used laptops to be distributed to underprivileged students.

He also announced YTL Foundation’s “Learn From Home” initiative.

The initiative, in collaboration with YTL Communications, will involve the provision of free YES 4G smartphones with 12 months’ free YES service of 120GB of 4G data to 224 students in Penang.

Chow said 76 families have already received the free smartphones, and another 148 families have applied for them.

He thanked YTL for the contribution, which is valued at RM201,376, and expressed hope that others in the private sector will join forces with the state to assist more students in need.