By Janani Raj (BAC Apprentice)
“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.” – David Warlick
Ever since the government of Malaysia implemented a Movement Control Order (MCO) and various lockdowns since March 2020, learning has come to a screeching halt for many students across the country. With the closure of schools and educational institutions, students were left with no choice but to switch to remote learning.
While some students have the privilege of owning their own devices such as laptops and tablets, the majority of them, especially those coming from families living below the poverty line, do not. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) involving 900,000 students throughout Malaysia, almost 36.9% of these students are trapped in digital poverty, and have been deprived of quality education. In short, they are either trapped in circumstances where they do not have stable internet connection due to their geographical location, or do not possess an appropriate device to attend online classes.
The plight of these underprivileged school students was a catalyst for Team UPLIFT to embark on a journey to make education available for every student through 1MillionDevices. This campaign aims to provide devices such as new tablets, refurbished and workable laptops to underprivileged school students specifically those falling within the B40, and from marginalised communities. In their pilot project, the team through many of its collaborative partners, have identified about 100 student recipients from around Klang Valley whose learning were severely impacted by the numerous lockdowns.
The team from 1MillionDevices worked closely with Madam Amarjit Kaur from Persatuan Akademik Motivasi Akhlak Rawang (PAMAR) to distribute brand new Samsung tablets to 10 deserving students from 5 different schools namely SJK(T) Ladang Vallambrosa, SJK(T) Rawang, SJK(T) Jalan Tepi Sungai, SJK(T) Ladang Riverside and SJK(T) Ladang Mary. The distribution that took place over the course of 3 days, from 16th to 18thOctober, was held in the presence of school principals, teachers, parents/guardians and the recipients.
Representing Team UPLIFT, Janani Raj, a BAC Apprentice under the 1MillionDevices campaign, helped in the distribution of 2 devices to students from SJK(T) Rawang on the 18th of October,2021.
While speaking to these students, all 10 of them acknowledged that they have missed many classes for months, due to the lack of a digital device.
Two recipients from SJK(T) Ladang Mary named Endhiran Kamalakannan and Havinesh Umahsanggar, both aged 10, claimed that due to the lack of appropriate devices to attend online classes, they had to travel to their school on alternate days to get modules containing school homework from their respective class teachers. Upon completion of the homework, they had to travel once again to turn in their modules.
Endhiran from SJK(T) Ladang Mary
Havinesh from SJK(T) Ladang Mary
Servin Raj Chandran, aged 11, from SJK(T) Jalan Tepi Sungai shared, “My parents are using normal phones and do not possess touch screen phones. Therefore, I had to walk to my fellow classmate’s home everyday in order to attend online classes. Since the two of us are given homework at the same time, it was difficult for us to share and submit the homework on time.” He further added, “My classmate’s home is located somewhat further from my home and I fear for my own safety throughout the entire walking journey. With this new tablet, I don’t have to walk far anymore and most of all, I don’t have to be worried about my own safety.”
Servin Raj Chandran from SJK(T) Tepi Sungai
Vaseegaran Raja Kumar and Sri Thani Vijaya Kumar, recipients from SJK(T) Ladang Vallambrosa shared the struggles of sharing a single device among their siblings, causing them to miss their online classes. They also added that with the new Samsung tablets, they will be able to attend online classes, submit their homework on time and clear doubts with their teacher with regards to school subjects.
Vaseegaran from SJK(T) Ladang Vallambrosa
Sri Thani from SJK(T) Ladang Vallambrosa
To sum this up, the recipients will now be able to join their online classes without any hindrances and will no longer be left behind in their studies. However, there are many more students trapped in digital poverty and have been falling behind in their studies for months now.
We, at the 1MillionDevices, invite members of the public, NGOs, public and private corporates to help us end digital poverty amongst school going students.
Kindly visit our website https://1milliondevices.my/ or follow our official social media pages to find out more about our ongoing mission and how you can be a part of it.