MCO: Impact of digital divide deepens with e-learning


KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 (Bernama) -- The online teaching and learning (PdP) method used to replace classroom teaching is one way to adhere to the movement control order (MCO), imposed on March 18 to break the chain of Covid-19 infections.

However, the snag is that some students do not have access to the Internet or may have a weak connection, especially those living in rural areas or from poor families.

READ ALSO: Pensiangan students with no Internet coverage to be sent printed study materials

So, what can teachers do to ensure their students are not left behind during the MCO period?

English language teacher Mohd Fakhrul Anwar, 34, who is from SK Seri Jemerli, Kuala Ketil, Kedah, feels that the online teaching and learning (PdP) method is very challenging for those like him who teach in rural areas.

He said the biggest obstacle is that not all students have Internet access or even electronic devices.

“Online learning is very dependent on Internet access... for instance, in my school, students are given work through Google Form or Quizizz, but not all can get access.

“There are students who do not have online data, and it is a problem for families with more than one schooling child but only one handphone, ” he told Bernama.

Fakhrul said students without Internet data will probably fall behind in their studies, so teachers will have to call them to tell about homework and which textbooks to use.

“It is very difficult to hold online classes... I have tried using Google Meet but it was not easy and some parents even had to go out to the main road to get Internet access, ” he said.

Fakhrul said students who live in urban areas would not have any problems as their access to Internet was good, but these were a small number.

READ ALSO: Introduce more competition for better, cheaper Internet connectivity

Meanwhile Raja Maizatul Wizana Raja Mansor, 42, an English teacher at a Mara Junior Science College (MRSM), said students from the B40 group and had only one handphone that is shared with other family members are given more time to complete their assignments.

She said the assignments are also suited to the handphones and students can submit their work in condensed version while those with laptops and proper Internet access will have no problems sending in their work in a video.

“We in MRSM have been asked to provide various types of mediums such as Google Classroom, Google Meets, Telegram, WhatsApp and the Short Messaging Service (SMS)... so far, there have been no problems.

“The students have no problem with Internet access, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, in urban or rural areas... as long as they have a handphone, the PdP can be conducted... what is important is whether they want to learn or not, ” she said.

Meanwhile, Syafaat Nasib, 29, a mathematics teacher in a primary school in Taiping, Perak, said he does not conduct online classes and homework is given through the Telegram app, but not all students are in the group.

He said teachers must be aware of students who may have problems with online study caused by a lack of Internet access.

“However, if students have problems (with Internet access), we will make up for it when the school re-opens, ” he said.

Recently, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said students who do not have Internet access can keep up with their studies through educational television on RTM’s TV Okey.

He said this would benefit not just the students but also teachers and parents during the MCO period. – Bernama

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