So yesterday we learnt what Kak Eton asked 20 years ago when she arrived fresh from the kampung (read here). Now let us fast forward to 20 years from the first time Kak Eton inquired about what the MSC is or isn’t, to the present time. We are now in 2020, otherwise known as the year of the …. COVID-19!
Well, hey ho! If there is any time in which the nation REALLY needs all those investments they had been making the past 20 years in this thing called the MSC to shine and aid, THIS is the time.
During the COVID-19 MCO and CMCO, the entire education system is crippled, for want of a better word. Though we all know that there are other systems forming the bloodlines of a living and breathing nation that are also crippled, like Trades, Transportation, Defence, Banking, etc, but it is that system that relies upon the transference of knowledge directly from teacher to a classroom full of students that should be supported, propped up, maintained and safe-guarded at all costs. That it deserves this special care and attention is because our future as a nation depends upon this generation that is currently undergoing this knowledge transference now.
For such a peculiar situation as the COVID-19 pandemic, classrooms have no other option but to go online. Theoretical lessons have GOT to go tele-conferencing and more difficult aspects of laboratory experimentations which otherwise could be both dangerous, time consuming and difficult to grasp — have GOT to go virtual. This is the time in which the initial ideas of the MSC should shine in glory, reminiscing of the 7-year preparation of Joseph to face the seven years of famine in Egypt.
Question is, Where is it?
Where is the one-student-one-laptop concept that was supposed to be the underlying structure of the MSC educational arm? Where is the high bandwidth, Smart-School implementation of one of the MSC flagships that is supposed to bear fruit right around this time? Yes there are online conferencing done by big corporations, government offices, high end educational institutions like Universities or wealthy private schools, but what about the schools catering for the children of the B40 residents? The kampung schools? The suburban ones near housing communities with their under-used, under-utilized Pusat Internet Rakyat? Do these students of lower-income parents still made to pay for their WiFi? And a majority don’t even have laptops. Shouldn’t they be given free laptops according to plans?
What do we do with those students who, when neither in school nor online, have decided instead to utilise their time in very unproductive means, whence THIS should be the time for them to innovate and become creative. An opportunity to turn every pandemic, every disaster, every catastrophe into something advantageous and useful? Because, remember, we have the MSC.
We missed it. We really missed the opportunity of proving and propelling our youngsters to capture the complex world of the Sciences and the Arts at a time when they are having nowhere to go except stay home. We could have coerced them to discover the secrets of the Universe and pry the atoms within the confines of their own houses. To solve age-old mathematical puzzles, to learn about other peoples and places that they’d never dream of doing in real life. To be taught in real time not only by their own teachers, but from teachers all over the world. And they could have done that if we had given them the tools for it: cheap but sufficient computing power plus the connectivity that goes along with it. And the body, the philosophy, the concept, the billion-ringgit idea that was supposed to provide that for them? The MSC! But what heralded us in 2020 instead?
Veveonah’s tree-climbing stunt! Where are the Internet connectivity that are supposed to happen after 10, 20 years of the MSC rollout agendas, covering the entire Malaysia? Of the various phases of implementations initially aimed at covering the entire nation with superfast communications that form the pre-requisites in the areas of Telehealth, Smart School and the other flagships?
Kak Eton has nothing to say except to concede with the inevitable fact that this particular episode exposes an extremely embarrassing chapter of the Nation’s ACTUAL handling of its “Multimedia Super Corridor” for the entire world to scrutinise and sneer!
Now Kak Eton feels that age is catching up and she does not want to be known as the millennium’s angry woman anymore. Grey hairs have begun to show, though conveniently covered by her tudung. Shortly her other son will pick her up from the Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT station and bring her to Mutiara Damansara to see his new tunang (fiancee). She’ll probably stay here a couple of days before heading back home kampung.
[This will not be the last we see of this incredible woman: the adventures and exploits of Kak Eton will continue to be narrated here once in a while]
Note: The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of New Malaysia Herald.