Syed Saddiq questions why Cerdik’s promise to gift students laptops now just a loan programme

Syed Saddiq pointed out the inconsistencies of the current government’s promise to provide 150,000 laptops to students through the initiative, pointing out that it is now a lending scheme similarly used for school textbooks instead.  — Screencap from Cerdik website
Syed Saddiq pointed out the inconsistencies of the current government’s promise to provide 150,000 laptops to students through the initiative, pointing out that it is now a lending scheme similarly used for school textbooks instead. — Screencap from Cerdik website

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has blasted government-linked Hasanah Foundation’s Cerdik initiative today, pointing out to a change in its initial promise to buy laptops for students struggling to adjust to new learning norms.

Syed Saddiq pointed out the inconsistencies of the current government’s promise to provide 150,000 laptops to students through the initiative, pointing out that it is now a lending scheme similarly used for school textbooks instead.

“First you say you want to give 150,000 laptops to students. Now it’s like a textbook loan scheme.

“So once you’ve used the laptop, you have to give it back? If it is faulty, the student has to replace it? Why didn’t mention this while presenting it during Budget 2021?” he asked.

Hasanah Foundation is the government-linked sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s corporate social responsibility foundation.

On the frequently asked questions (FAQ) on Cerdik Initiative’s website, the foundation said that the laptops or iPad tablets being loaned out under the programme belong to the Ministry of Education, and a fine of RM300 will be imposed if the laptop is lost or damaged.

It also said that the programme will be akin to the textbook loan scheme, and the devices and data connection will be contributed to each schools to determine eligible students.

It will also provide just 15GB data per month for 12 months, and any additional data must be paid for by each student.

In contrast, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had announced while tabling Budget 2021 in November last year that Hasanah Foundation will supervise a pilot project worth RM150 million to provide laptops to 150,000 students in 500 schools.

The Cerdik initiative was slated to provide digital access comprising laptops, tablets, and data connectivity to the students beginning this month.

The initiative involves contributions from 13 GLCs and government-linked investments companies (GLICs), representing companies under Khazanah Permodalan Nasional Berhad, the Employees’ Provident Fund and Petronas.

Syed Saddiq had recently held a fundraiser in order to provide needy students in his constituency with affordable laptops to be used for online learning.

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