KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — A group of government-linked companies (GLCs) are spearheading an initiative to assist students from lower-income families to adapt to the new norm of online lessons during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the aegis of Khazanah Nasional Berhad's corporate social responsibility foundation Yayasan Hasanah, the CERDIK initiative will provide digital access comprising laptops, tablets, and data connectivity to the students beginning next month.

The initiative will involve contributions worth RM150 million from 13 GLCs and government-linked investments companies (GLICs), representing companies under Khazanah Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Petronas.

CERDIK was first announced last year during the Budget 2021 as a pilot initiative which will be fully funded by the GLICs and GLCs.

Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Yusran Shah Mohd Yusof said the students and schools are selected by the ministry, which also carefully decided on the hardware and software specifications to ensure a more sustainable implementation including warranty support, usability, and longer shelf life for future digital learning.

"We want to bridge the learning gap between those who can afford digital devices and those who cannot. Furthermore, we hope that this initiative will also pilot digital learning models for future adoptions," he said in a statement.

Hasanah will be CERDIK's secretariat by administering the contributions, in cash and kind, from participating companies while working in partnership with both the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry.

Its managing director Shahira Ahmed Bazari said the foundation is deeply committed to supporting innovative and scalable learning models to promote equity and level the playing field to enable access to quality learning for all.

"Hasanah has been working very closely with the Education Ministry in the design of the CERDIK initiative to ensure its sustainable implementation.

"We are working hard with all parties to accelerate the pace of distribution. We are humbled to lead this initiative with both ministries and our GLIC-GLC partners to make a difference during these trying times," she said.

Since 2010, Hasanah and Khazanah have also been working with the Education Ministry on various system-level educational initiatives to support inclusive education for students in Malaysia.