KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is moving quickly to provide all public schools with Internet access in a “top priority” plan to reduce the digital divide.
Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said some 10,000 primary and secondary schools in the country would be wired under the plan, which was initially slated to begin last month.
He said work would start once all the details of the plan were finalised and agreed upon by the parties which would be involved.
According to Moggie, the initial plan was to provide Internet access to all schools by the end of this year, “but that would have meant that we would have had to start in June. Now it's already July.”
His ministry was discussing with the Education Ministry on several issues, such as the decision-making process which would be involved, he told reporters yesterday at the soft launch of Malaysia ICT Week 2003.
Moggie said the plan to have Internet access in all schools was a key focus in a larger effort to reduce the digital divide, especially in rural areas.
“The use of new technologies generally concentrates in urban areas, so it is a challenge to increase connections and connectivity to outlying areas,” he said.
“The school system is the foundation on which we will enhance Internet penetration.”
Some schools already have Internet access, but they are still in the minority.
Last year, the Government spent RM50mil under the Universal Service Programme administered by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to build Internet access and computing facilities in 200 schools in Sabah and Sarawak.
Deputy Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho had said on Tuesday that about 400,000 residents have access to these facilities, which are opened to the public.
He added that the Government was also working on increasing community-based Internet access facilities via the Internet Desa programme; enhancing public awareness on the uses of the Internet; and expanding the availability of high-speed Internet access via broadband.
The Government has set up 16 Internet Desa centres in the rural locations and plans to build 40 more this year.