WHEN physical classes were replaced by online learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic, some students were unable to cope with the abrupt change as they lacked the necessary electronic equipment.
Seeing this problem, Khidmat Budi, a platform set up by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Economics and Management Faculty (FEP), stepped in to help.
Khidmat Budi engages its university alumni, strategic partners and others to help needy students and communities living near the university in Bangi, Selangor.
Its MyDigitalBudi project focused on gathering funds to buy the students new laptops as well as refurbish second-hand laptops for beneficiaries.
FEP deputy dean (networking and alumni) Dr Muhammad Hakimi Mohd Shafiai said the project also received funds from the Federal Territories Zakat Collection Centre for this purpose.
“To date, we have secured 40 new laptops and distributed 10 to students and Bangi folk,” he said.
“We also accept donations of used laptops from the public and we will upgrade the system before giving it out,” he added.
Khidmat Budi was launched online in May by then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.
MyDigitalBudi is one of three programme pillars under Khidmat Budi.
The other two focused on economic development for the community and education empowerment among youth.
Hakimi said there were plans to create a mobile computer laboratory concept where students could borrow the laptops whenever they needed them.
“It will not be a one-off contribution but rather, students who are in need of a laptop for a fixed period of time can get it from us and then return it when they have completed their assignments.
“Noah Foundation in Kuala Lumpur will be working with us on this and we want to get at least 30 laptops for this initiative.
“We are in the midst of finalising the details,” he said.
Khidmat Budi is also appealing to the public and UKM alumni to donate new laptops for needy students.
“We are aiming to raise RM1mil in endowment funds this year. We now have about RM200,000.”
He said UKM accepted students from B40 families and rural areas and a majority were in crucial need of digital equipment for online classes.
“Some were using their parents’ phones to attend these classes.
“With the current Covid-19 pandemic, our computer laboratory was not open to students and those without a laptop had to source for gadgets themselves,” he said.
Hakimi added that they had recently made efforts to seek help from government-linked companies to join their cause.
Khidmat Budi is currently managed by a lean team of four people from the FEP Secretariat of Partnerships and Alumni, namely Muhammad Jasmi, Siti Noor Kamaliah Mat Jusoh, Nur Farhah Najihah Adanan and Nurul Ain Nafhah Abd Rahman, who run most of the operations alongside other student volunteers.
Occasionally, volunteers help them out logistically to send laptops to beneficiaries.
Hakimi said the pandemic sometimes posed logistical challenges and they sometimes engage a courier service to deliver their laptops.
“Our target this year is to contribute 100 laptops to needy individuals.
“We vet through our beneficiaries, sometimes through house visitations, and find out what aid they need.
“MyDigitalBudi programme is even more crucial at this time because the students are now taking examinations,” he said.