PETALING JAYA: The low adoption and usage of the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) under the 1BestariNet project in Malaysian schools was a result of under-promotion of the programme by the Education Ministry.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report 2018 Series 1, it was not the responsibility of the contractor of the programme – YTL Communications Sdn Bhd – to promote the adoption and usage of the platform in schools.
Findings by the National Audit Department suggested that the Education Ministry should have done more to encourage the usage of the platform in view of the high investment.
The latest audit report was tabled at the Parliament on Monday.
The performance and management of Phase 2 of the 1BestariNet project, which cost RM1.55bil, was one of the items highlighted in the report.
“The objectives of the 1BestariNet Phase 2 implementation were not achieved based on the low adoption and usage of the platform among students and teachers,” the report said, adding that only 11.5% to 31.3% out of a population of 423,566 teachers used the system last year.
“This low performance did not provide value for money to the Education Ministry vis-a-vis the high service costs involved, as VLE had been implemented for seven years from December 2011,” it noted.
To recap, YTL Communications had secured the 1BestariNet contract in 2011 to provide Internet connectivity and a virtual learning platform to 10,000 schools in the country for 15 years.
The contract was to be implemented in rolling phases with a joint review on performance, changes in technology, basic educational needs and price prior to the expiry of each phase.
Contract for Phase 1 of the 1BestariNet ran from Dec 13, 2011 to June 30, 2016, while Phase 2, which was approved at a cost of RM1.55bil, started from July 1, 2016 to June 30 this year.
The audit report noted that the Education Ministry did not set clear policies and targets for teachers to use Frog VLE, although it did emphasise that these services were among the best methods in teaching and learning.
“The role of teachers is very important in the success of VLE through the provision of learning sites and selection of teaching and learning material resources,” the report said, adding that teachers should have encouraged the use of the platform to begin with.
In the audit’s opinion, the use of Frog VLE could have been made compulsory for certain teaching and learning purposes in a gradual and focused manner by the Education Ministry.
“The non-compulsory use of Frog VLE showed that a heayy investment had been made for something that was not mandatory. This was shown when the management of schools also did not pay attention to the use of Frog VLE by teachers in teaching and learning, thus resulting in 43% of teachers in 42 schools visited never having accessed the system in 2018,” it explained.
Meanwhile, it was noted that a third-party contractor was appointed between September 2017 and Dec 31, 2018, under a change management programme to undertake the role of promoting Frog VLE adoption.
The mandate given to the third-party contractor was to achieve an activation target of 30% for VLE IDs among parents.However, the audit found that this target was not achieved, as 95% of the 8,551 schools visited did not achieve the 30% activation target.
Therefore, the audit report found the change management programme, involving payments of RM8.2mil, was “ineffective”.