KUANTAN, May 16 — The government aims to provide each student with a device to facilitate digital learning, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said despite financial constraints, the government would try to implement the initiative in phases, expected to begin as early as this year.

“A tablet for each student is the aspiration of the Ministry of Education. I believe that this new method of learning through devices is inevitable, and that providing tablets to students should be even though we know financial constraints are a major factor.

“We are requesting for this to be imeplemented immediately but in phases. The system is already in place, the pedagogical teaching methods are there, only the tablets are the constraint. So if it can be done in phases starting this year, I think in the next four to five years, the majority will have them,” he said.

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He said this after officiating the 2024 National Teacher’s Day Celebration here today which was also attended by Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek and Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

Ahmad Zahid said he would discuss with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on securing additional funding for the purchase of devices to implement more comprehensive digital learning.

“Insya-Allah, I will support the programmes planned by the Ministry of Education (MOE) even though this year, RM58.7 billion has been allocated to MOE.

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“However, I am confident that the budget (for next year) will increase because of the need to purchase hardware (devices) to implement digital learning,” Ahmad Zahid said.

When asked about his statement that the government would ensure sufficient Internet coverage in low-density areas, villages, and remote areas to facilitate online learning for students, he said discussions had been held with Digital Minister Gobind Singh Deo and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din.

“I have discussed with the digital minister and the chairman of MCMC that since the government will decide on another service provider for 5G, among the focus areas will be low-density areas including Felda, traditional villages, and remote areas.

“In high-density areas (currently), coverage has reached 87.5 per cent and I am confident that by the end of this year, it will reach 99 per cent. The next phase will be implemented in low-density areas so that Orang Asli villages, traditional villages, and Felda areas will achieve (5G) coverage,” he said.

This year’s Teacher’s Day celebration themed Guru Jauhari Digital, Aspirasi Negara Madani was attended by 3,000 educators from all over the country. At the event, former Education deputy director-general Datuk Sulaiman Wak was announced as the 2024 National Education Leadership Figure.

The National Teacher 2024 award was given to former History teacher Masariah Mispari, who is now the Panel chief at the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YaPEIM). — Bernama