Call to rethink blanket school closures

(From left) Lee showing a smartphone to Chow at the device handover ceremony at Komtar. With them is Chong Eng.

AN exco member has proposed that schools located in yellow and green zones should be allowed to open to lessen the disruption caused to the learning process.

Penang women and family development committee chairman Chong Eng said this

proposal was to ensure students who do not have electronic devices at home would not fall behind in their studies.

She said online learning had become the new norm during the Covid-19 pandemic but a survey had revealed that 37% of schoolchildren do not own electronic devices at home.

“It is tough for these children to keep up with their studies, ” said Chong Eng.

She was speaking at the handover ceremony of e-learning devices from YTL Foundation and YTL Communications to the state for its Penang E-Learning Computer Programme.

The programme, launched by the state on May 21, was aimed at assisting needy students who do not have computers.

Under the used computer grant scheme, the computers are collected and repaired before they are donated to those eligible.

The computer device loan scheme has seen several corporations providing devices to students recommended by their schools.

Chong Eng said that 233 laptops were loaned out to students and teachers under the programme while 323 refurbished units were given free to students and 97 more to schools.

“A total of 299 discounted and refurbished e-learning devices were also sold to students and teachers while 60 routers, contributed by YTL Communications, were given to underprivileged students, ” she said.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who received the e-learning devices from YTL Foundation and YTL Communications, said education was not spared the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Penang government has to date given out 1,000 new and refurbished devices of all kinds since the inception of the e-learning programme, ” said Chow, adding that the E-Learning Task Force and his office

managed to gather 250 used laptops in three days to be distributed to poor students.

YTL Foundation and YTL Communications in its partnership with the state government has also given out free smartphones to 76 families.

Applications for free smartphones from 148 more families are being processed.

The company’s total contribution of devices, based on the completed applications thus far, is valued at RM201,376.

YTL Communications director Wing K. Lee said the ‘Learn From Home’ initiative was part of his company’s corporate social responsibility programme.

“We are delighted to have received nominations from the state government to help channel free YES smartphone and data packages to B40 families.

“These families are most in need of our support, ” he said.

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