BUDGET 2022 will see more digitalisation initiatives in education.
Top of the list is intensifying efforts to spread the National Digital Network (Jendela) meant to increase broadband access to Keluarga Malaysia.
Next year, the government has allocated RM700mil to continue digital connectivity efforts in 47 industrial areas and 630 schools, especially in rural areas.
And, 5G services will be expanded to 36% of high-density areas including major cities in Johor, Selangor, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak.
Digital learning is still inaccessible to many, especially the B40 community.
Even if laptops, tablets or smartphones are available for online learning at home, it is commonly reported that these devices have to be shared among children from B40 families, thus affecting teaching and learning (PdP).
To address the problem, government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies contributed RM150mil to a fund known as Tabung Cerdik, or Cerdik Fund, to provide laptops, tablets, and data connectivity to 150,000 students in 500 schools as a pilot project under Budget 2021.
As of last month, all 150,000 devices had been distributed to students from lower income households with the final student being from SMK Pinji, Ipoh, Perak, said Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin on Nov 7.
The initiatives to provide B40 students with access to digital learning will continue in next year’s national budget with RM450mil allocated for the PerantiSiswa Keluarga Malaysia, which would be used to provide mobile tablets to 600,000 higher education students from the B40 group.
One of the goodies mentioned in the budget is an RM100 Special Incentives for Teaching Aids to benefit more than 400,000 teachers in the Education Ministry.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the incentive is given as an appreciation to teachers who provided additional teaching materials to students during the pandemic period.
All these measures are necessary as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the need to embrace digital learning to ensure the continuity of education if and when students are not able to physically attend school.
With these, it is hoped that Malaysia inches closer to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.