Budget 2021: Govt urged to provide laptops to more students from B40 group

KUALA LUMPUR,. The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has urged the government to provide laptops through Tabung Cerdik to more students from low-income families.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said this was to enable the online teaching and learning (PdP) could be implemented effectively amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the temporary closure of almost all schools in the country.

“We need to look at the issue comprehensively, there are about five million students nationwide. Therefore, if only 150,000 of them from 500 schools receive the laptops, the numbers are relatively small.

“We hope the government can find other ways to enable more students from low-income families have access to it to facilitate online learning,” he said when appeared as a guest in the Ruang Bicara programme on Bernama TV tonight.

Tan said a NUTP survey found that 36 per cent of students nationwide do not possess any electronic devices that can be used for online PdP.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz when tabling Budget 2021 on Nov 6 announced that government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies would contribute RM150 million into Tabung Cerdik to provide laptops to 150,000 students in 500 schools as a pilot project. This project will be supervised by Yayasan Hasanah.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Dr Mazlan Abd Ghaffar said the spread of COVID-19 has also affected the income of universities in general.

“Although students are allowed to register at their respective universities and have now switched to online learning, collections of hostel fees have indeed decreased and this has also affected the income of the university itself.

“If the government intends to reduce operating expenses under Budget 2021, the situation will worsen for many universities,” he said, adding that universities should also find ways to generate income to cover their operating expenses.

Echoing the same sentiment was National Council of Professors president and chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Raduan Che Rose who said that most public and private institutions of higher learning in the country could not generate income due to the spread of the pandemic.

“Most of the revenue of these public and private institutions of higher learning comes from the admission of international students. For now, new and current students are unable to attend classes as usual and this has caused deterioration of the financial situation of these institutions,” he said.

— BERNAMA

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