Kuala Lumpur, 24 November 2014 – The latest Auditor General’s Report revealed that the 1BestariNet project developed by YTL Communications has failed to deliver e-learning services to all 10,000 schools by the end of 2013 as promised. For a project with the price tag of approximately RM 4 billion this seems to be an inefficient and ineffective use of MOE resources.
As the Education Ministry has indicated that 1BestariNet will continue, it is important to correct the inefficiencies quickly as over RM 1 billion has been spent on broadband internet contract, VLE licensing fees management and maintenance costs.
1BestariNet first attracted controversy when policy makers and media alike were skeptical of the manner in which the contract was awarded to YTL. Many also worry that YTL’s monopoly of ICT learning is set to dominate the education market for years, leaving schools with no choice but to comply with internet provisions by YTL. This limits the autonomy of schools to choose the internet service provider that best suits them in terms of pricing and coverage.
Defending the underuse of VLE, the Education Ministry also reiterated there is ‘‘no mandatory directive’’ for teachers to use the VLE. However, we believe it is only responsible for the Ministry to look into this matter and perhaps, and listen to teachers and principals who may have other preferences in terms of internet servicing or e-learning resources. The AG Report stated that ”no school requirement studies were implemented” before internet connectivity in schools was established.
We urge the MOE to take the latest AG’s Report findings seriously and ensure that maximum quality is delivered. After all, this project is funded by taxpayer’s money.
On the last note, it is important to remember that education is a basic right and thus, transition to ICT learning must be taken seriously. The most affected participants of this project are students, especially those who are poor and from rural areas, whose academic progress might very well be marred by simple factors such as slow internet speeds. It is time to give schools room to make decisions which are in the best interest of their students and be trusted to make simple decisions such as which internet provider they prefer.
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