KUALA LUMPUR: Everyone should have access to the Internet and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry must speed up efforts to improve Internet connectivity across the country, says Dr Maszlee Malik (Independent-Simpang Renggam).
Maszlee said digital literacy among the public is imperative, given the increasing dependence on technology in the 21st century.
Maszlee also said it was unacceptable that Internet connectivity remains weak in many parts of the country.
"The fact is that Internet connectivity is still weak in many areas and this will widen the digital divide among the people, and some children will be left out of education as a result.
"The Communications and Multimedia Ministry must expedite efforts to expand Internet access across the country," said Maszlee in his speech on the Royal Address on Monday (Sept 20).
Maszlee also stressed that access to the Internet was a right accorded to all students and educators.
"They must be given a minimum of 100Kbps broadband connection for each user in schools or educational institutions at a quality of service (QoS) at 99% availability.
"The MCMC should also mandate telecommunications operators to provide schools with an equal level of network access.
"Access must also be provided at schooling facilities where it is needed for teaching and learning," he said.
At the same time, Maszlee also argued that those who are digitally illiterate tend to fall prey to scams and other criminal activities such as sex abuse and human trafficking.
"Many criminal and scam cases can be avoided through digital literacy. In fact, being digitally literate also benefits Malaysians in their businesses, investments and also jobs in the gig economy," he added.
Meanwhile, Maszlee urged the government to set up an Education Action Council, in order to come up with a new education plan that takes into account the post-Covid-19 pandemic situation.
Maszlee said the proposed Education Action Council must not consist of politicians.
"This council must be made up of those who have the relevant experiences and expertise in education, technology and economy," said Maszlee.
Maszlee also called for the formation of a National Higher Education Council to be expedited, adding that politicians mustn't interfere.
"The higher education council must only be managed by academicians and professionals without politicians interfering.
"The University's management board must also be free from any political appointments."
Later, Maszlee said there must be changes in the Education Ministry's SOP about sexual harassment and its guidelines to address disciplinary issues, because it is an outdated SOP, given that it was introduced 10 years ago in 2011.
"The two SOPs do not reflect present developments. The SOPs and guidelines must be updated, in line with the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017."
Maszlee said when he was the former education minister under the Pakatan Harapan government, there were proposals to update the SOPs and guidelines on discipline and sexual harassment.
"I have also released a memo dated Dec 31, 2019, to the Education Ministry's highest leadership to implement amendments."
"I hope the Education Ministry will continue those efforts to better protect children at schools.
"I'm also in support of the Sexual Harassment Bill to be immediately tabled and passed in Parliament.
"Together, we can make schools a safer place for all."
Maszlee had served as education minister beginning May, 2018 under Pakatan's 22-month administration and he had tendered his resignation on Jan 2, 2020