PETALING JAYA: Of the 150,000 units of laptops promised to B40 students in November 2020, only 111,040 laptops have been distributed as of Sept 18.

Calling this shortfall a huge disgrace, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching(pix) pointed out that the promise was made during the 2021 budget speech on Nov 8, 2021 and it was made on the onset of 37% of Malaysian students do not have suitable or any devices or gadgets for online learning.

“Thirty seven per cent translates to at least 1.7 million students with inadequate devices and therefore more likely to be a segment of society more adversely affected by the pandemic contributing to severity of the lost generation concern.,” she said in a statement yesterday.

“More than 300 days down the road, and the Ministry of Finance as well as the Ministry of Education have not gotten their act together. And today we have heard the announcement that schools will reopen in stages in October.

“We are only five days away and the announcement has also spelt out that there is a rotation system in place which seems to form an integral part of the SOPs in school operations. This means, many students will still need a suitable device when they are home to participate in PdPR (home-based teaching and learning).”

As of Sept 18, 2021, the Minister of Education revealed that only 111,040 laptops have been distributed so far leaving behind 38,060 promised laptop units yet to be delivered.

“It is safe to assume that more than 38,060 students are affected by this utterly embarrassing delay as one laptop can benefit more than one student per household,” Teo said.

“From the Parliamentary reply, 15,419 units of laptops were received from Yayasan Hasanah but have not been distributed. The Parliamentary reply stipulated that it will only be distributed shortly without any commitment to a nearest possible dateline. In addition, the Minister of Education revealed that 23,541 laptops have yet to be received from Yayasan Hasanah.”

She said she had already stated, and have repeatedly mentioned since then that 150,000 units will not be sufficient to address the digital gap as well to cater to the needs of poor children and families with more than two children and fall in the B40 category.

Providing adequate devices must be a government funded effort and initiative not one that solely relies on contribution by GLC, she added.

“What makes this situation an absolute mockery of good governance is we have not received any explanation from either the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance or from Yayasan Hasanah why procuring the laptops is taking way too long, what are the causes and what are the steps taken to mitigate the delay. No explanation and zero accountability.

“This indicates and reflects how the government of the day prioritises education and to me it looks as if education and the tools to education has always taken a back seat and has never been an integral part of managing this pandemic and moving forward to create a resilient society. It is all just talk with very little action,” Teo added.