KOTA KINABALU (Jan 24): Educational tools such as Internet access and gadgets have become a basic necessity in the teaching and learning at home (PdPR) method in the country which is still facing the COViD-19 pandemic.
However, unsatisfactory Internet access and the price of communication gadgets such as smartphones and tabs, which are quite expensive, particularly for the less affordable, is the biggest challenge for parents, especially those in Sabah, to ensure the smooth running of the PdPR sessions.
A nurse, Norliani Mahadi, 43, said Internet access and gadgets are two interdependent factors to ensure a smooth online learning perfect as the process will be disrupted if one is not available.
Norliani, whose 10-year-old child is following the PdPR sessions, said it is common knowledge that Internet access in Sabah is not at a satisfactory level, especially in the rural areas, while Internet packages are still not at an affordable level, especially for the B40 group.
"There is no point of buying expensive or sophisticated gadgets of any kind if the Internet access is problematic as then it is not possible to do PdPR sessions.
"Then again if the internet access is good but the price of gadgets is too expensive, people cannot afford them and the PdPR sessions still cannot go on. All these factors need to be taken into account," she told Bernama here.
Another nurse, Amrata Kumbayat, 46, said her four children, aged eight to 19, have smartphones to enable them to follow the PdPR sessions, but feels the effectiveness of the method cannot beat face-to-face learning.
"But now with COVID-19 spreading, we have no choice, but to implement the PdPR sessions. Therefore, the facilities need to be provided and everything must be affordable for all groups because we want to provide education for everyone," she said.
She said apart from the challenges of providing the necessary tools, parents, especially those who work in the front line, like herself, need to divide their time (between work and family) to help their children's PdPR process and ensure that the Internet and gadgets are used properly for learning.
Form four student Amir Ariq Danie Amir Hasan, 16, said it is a challenge for him to follow PdPR as he just moved to a new school from Lahad Datu to Kota Kinabalu this year.
"If we want to study well, we have to get to see our teachers and friends. With the PdPR, it is not the same as meeting them face to face. Hopefully, I can meet everyone after COVID-19," he said.
Meanwhile, a telecommunications equipment store supervisor Geeryleon Alimus, 23, said the shop’s staff and himself are currently busy facilitating the way for parents to purchase suitable mobile phones and Internet packages according to their budget.
"Many parents buy phones for their children at a price of around RM400. We sell (handphones) suitable for their children to follow PdPR sessions. If they have a bigger budget then we suggest ones that have more functions and greater Internet quota," he said.
Edmund Johnson, 39, a computer shop salesman here, admitted that sales of tabs on the premises have increased by up to 75 per cent since the PdPR was implemented and most of the tab buyers at the outlet are parents.
He said the store also provided second-hand computers, laptops and tabs for sale to parents with limited budgets.
"Indeed, many parents buy according to their budgets. The important thing is to have a webcam, WiFi or other functions. We will suggest which items are suitable and we will help them as best as we can," he added.