KOTA KINABALU, June 9 — Sabah’s students were ill-equipped to follow the government’s home-based learning programme (PdPR) due to widespread poverty and poor telecommunications infrastructure in the state, said a non-governmental organisation here.
Women in Sabah’s Expression (Wise) said that the government consequently must consider the state’s socio economic status and implement a more inclusive home learning programme that caters to students from households of all income levels.
“It is common knowledge that Sabah has the highest poverty rate in the country. Sabah recorded a poverty rate of 19.5 per cent last year. In other words, as many as 760,000 people out of Sabah’s 3.9 million people are still living in poverty.
“The recent announcement of laptop assistance to 10,000 Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia (SPM), Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) students is not enough to accommodate poor students and is unable to bridge the gap among students especially between rich and poor, or among students in urban and rural areas,” said the group.
The group said that while the state was still struggling with dilapidated schools, it was facing an even more critical shortage of smart devices and online connectivity among students to cope with the current pandemic.
“This pandemic has further highlighted the existing education gap in Sabah compared to the peninsula, especially in urban and rural areas. Data and gadgets are a huge problem.
“Malaysia is already in the second year of the pandemic and the third movement control order (MCO). A precise PdPR policy according to the needs of each state should have been discussed and is in the implementation phase at present,” it said.
“Online teaching is still in the stage of innovation at the moment. Although good, the fact is that the education system, especially in Sabah, is still not fully ready,”
The group instead proposed that the government introduce comprehensive and integrated learning methods through television channels, specifically RTM that was broadcast nationwide and able to reach all rural areas.
“Educational TV and educational radio are also the best approaches to address this issue,” it said.
It also urged the government to expedite the construction of internet telecommunication towers and urging laptop assistance to accommodate the B40 family students who are left behind.
Reports of students in Sabah struggling to keep up with their education due to the lack of infrastructure have been frequent. The state government has tried to bridge the gap by giving out laptops to some.