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IDEAS urges government to bridge the digital divide in education

Kuala Lumpur, 15 April 2020 – The Malaysian Government has announced its the decision to postpone the reopening of schools until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control on the 10th April 2020. IDEAS urges the government to prioritize bridging the digital divide in its education policies in response to COVID-19.

IDEAS has published a Brief Ideas titled “Education during COVID-19”, by IDEAS’ Research Manager of Social Policy Unit, Ya Shin Wan.  In the brief, Wan identified the education challenges of the COVID-19 crisis in Malaysia. The identified challenges are the digital gap among students, the education system’s lack of digital preparedness, food access among poor families and the mental well-being of children.

In the brief, Wan stressed the need for our education policies to have a long-term perspective and be inclusive of vulnerable children. A plan on how schools are to be operated post-MCO must also be laid out.

As this paper was written before the announcement, Wan further proposed three recommendations for both likely future scenarios, the further extension of the current MCO and the reopening of schools.

If the MCO is extended further, the government should consider to:

  1. Distribute devices and increase access to online classes to reduce the digital divide;
  2. To further expand the digital lessons through television to provide more classes to children of all ages and throughout the day; and
  3. Encourage parents to instil learning outside the classroom.

When schools are reopened, the government should consider to:

  1. Improve hygiene and sanitation in schools;
  2. Implement a monitoring and prevention plan to prevent and respond to cases of infection in schools; and
  3. Expand the coverage of digital access to include all children in Malaysia in the long term.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caught us off guard, the current situation would continue to be the “new normal” for all of us, including our children.

A copy of the Brief Ideas can be downloaded here.

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2020-04-15T16:20:30+08:00 15th April 2020|Media Statements|Comments Off on IDEAS urges government to bridge the digital divide in education