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Who will monitor if these gadgets are used wisely?
Published on: Sunday, August 27, 2017

By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
IT cannot be denied that electronic devices can help improve the learning process as students can easily access information through them.

In the near future, students may have to put away their books and take out their electronic devices in classrooms, as Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid recently said that starting from next year, students in 10,000 schools nationwide would be allowed to bring certain mobile devices to class. Mobile phones are excluded, however.

Some quarters claim that phones are more distracting compared to devices that depend on WiFi or a local area network to connect to the Internet. But with the latest technology and apps, voice and video communications can be enabled through laptops or tablets. I hope the guidelines being drafted by the Ministry will take into consideration this issue. Furthermore, technology is evolving so fast that the guidelines might be obsolete a few months after being introduced.

I therefore urge the Education Ministry to thoroughly study the proposal to allow students to bring electronic gadgets to the classroom and get the feedback of technology experts when drafting the guidelines.

Electronic gadgets can help improve the learning process as students can easily access information from such devices. With information technology, it would also be easier for students to understand what is being taught in the classroom.

The guidelines should ensure that students do not misuse or abuse the technology by accessing unapproved sites that could affect their minds. The Ministry must also decide who will monitor the use of these gadgets in school.

No doubt teachers would be forced to shoulder the responsibility, and we know they are already handling too many tasks now.

At the same time, we must know who will supply the devices as not all students can afford to buy them.

If students are allowed to buy the electronic gadgets themselves, those from the well-to-do families would definitely bring the latest and expensive devices, creating low self-esteem among the poor students.

It can also lead to theft and other disciplinary cases as some students may be tempted to steal the gadgets they could not afford to buy.

The wide use of such gadgets could also expose students to cyberbullying. According to statistics compiled by CyberSecurity Malaysia, cyberbullying among students is quite serious with 250 cases reported in 2012, 389 in 2013, 291 in 2014, 256 in 2015 and 338 in 2016.

A survey by DIGI Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and Telenor Group last year revealed that one in four students admitted that they had experienced cyberbullying.

If the devices are to be supplied by the Government or school administration, the astronomical cost would be the main issue since there are about five million students nationwide.

The idea is good but we do not want problems to occur halfway through the implementation process, ultimately forcing the Government to cancel it.

The Education Ministry should also hold discussions with the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), Parent-Teacher Associations and other stakeholders all over the country to ensure that the guidelines will cover all issues and must be updated in tandem with the constantly developing technology.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye Senior Vice-Chairman Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation

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