The global Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in the closure of schools worldwide affecting some one billion students.
The same is bound to happen in Malaysia if the Movement Control Order (MCO) is extended beyond March 31. Students in public schools in Malaysia are currently on their first term break but teachers, administrators and parents are worried that lessons could be severely disrupted if schools remain closed.
As such, YTL Foundation has decided to provide online access to parents of children in public schools to ensure their studies will not be impacted due to the pandemic.
Parents can get up to five YES 4G prepaid SIM cards for free, one for each school-going child in the family.
The SIM comes with a 40GB data plan which is valid for 60 days upon activation. It will be couriered to homes free of charge. Parents need to log on to www.ytlfoundation.org/learn to register for FrogPlay Mobile and apply for the free YES prepaid 4G SIM cards.
YTL Group executive chairman and YTL Foundation chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said this was their way of supporting students and schools to make education better for all.
“At this time when the country is facing an unprecedented crisis, we want to make sure that children are still able to continue learning from home.
“We are giving free access to FrogAsia’s online learning resources and providing free data via YES 4G’s mobile network.”
“Our hope is that all children in this country will stay safe and keep learning,” he added.
This decision was made following a recent YTL Foundation survey which saw 95 per cent of parents’ key concern was how their children’s education would remain uninterrupted while at home.
Some 90 per cent of them have at least one mobile device at home and are open to their children learning online but 50 per cent of those surveyed expressed the need for data to enable effective access to online learning resources.
The survey noted that for those in the B40 group, having to buy data would be a huge burden, especially now when household incomes are at risk.
YTL Group, through YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, is no stranger to the Malaysian education system, having won an open tender in 2011 for a 15-year service contract to digitalise schools nationwide.
The 15-year programme, valued at RM4.1 billion and divided into several phases, was launched by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was then the education minister.
1BestariNet is powered by Yes 4G while Frog VLE is a learning platform where teachers create and post content that students can access.
On June 27, 2019, former Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced that the ministry would be terminating YTL Communications’ 1BestariNet Internet services to 10,211 schools.
Following the termination, Internet services would be powered by Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis Broadband for six months (July 1 – Dec 31, 2019) before the ministry picked a new provider starting Jan 1, 2020.
However, till today, there has been no news of fresh tenders being called.
Teachers and students were instead asked to use Google Classroom.
However, several schools still use FrogVLE as evident in SMK Air Molek, Melaka.
Its principal Norsiah Abd Rahman said students in her school are required to download FrogPlay Mobile, as they all have mobile phones but not all have computers at home.
“Through the mobile application, we encourage students to download and complete quizzes during this time. Meanwhile, we ask our teachers to come up with creative ways to encourage students to continue learning using their mobile phones.
“I believe the school closure is a wake-up call for all of us to realise the importance of e-learning.”
“In such times, this is the only way to ensure teaching and learning are not affected. If teachers cannot teach, students are the ones that will be most impacted.”
B. Eswaran, who teaches in SJKT Ladang Elaeis in Kluang, said most of his students do not have computers at home but are logging in using their parents’ phones.
He called on his peers to embrace technology.
“They (teachers) just have to start. If they don’t start, they will be left behind. Especially now when there are no classes in school, they have to force themselves to start.
“I hope they will continue moving forward after starting. If they’re stuck in the past, they will be expired teachers. They need to keep updated and follow the trends in online learning.”