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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Billions wasted on MOE’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ IT policy

Good intentions wasted . . . Less than 5 per cent of teachers make daily use of the ICT facilities provided to them.
1bestari2KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s “one-size-fits-all” 1BestariNet and ICT in Education Policy, which doesn’t consider the needs of schools, has wasted billions.
Why did the Auditor-General’s Report find that less than 5 per cent of teachers make daily use of the ICT facilities provided to them?
The Ministry of Education spent billions on equipping schools with 4G connections, Chromebooks and the world’s only cloud-based virtual learning environment that connects 10,000 schools including parents, students and teachers under one network.
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), in a new policy paper released on Thursday, took issue with Malaysia’s “one-size-fits-all” 1BestariNet and ICT in Education Policy.
“The low levels of ICT usage in Malaysian classrooms is due to unreliable network connectivity, lack of trained teachers and a lack of decision making in the ICT policies and infrastructure implemented in schools by the school management,” said the Paper.
Entitled “ICT in Classroom Learning – Exploring the Discrepancies Between Ideal Conditions and Current Malaysian Policy”, author Jenny Gryzelius examines the ICT in education policy in Malaysia and its current implementation.
Jenny Gryzelius is a freelance education researcher, with a Masters in Social Policy Analysis from Catholic University Leuven, Belgium. She was formerly Senior Researcher at IDEAS.
Her paper acknowledges that whilst the Ministry of Education (MoE) has a holistic approach and emphasises the importance of teachers, all their good intentions are wasted due to implementation shortcomings. “Implementation lessons learned from the Smart School Initiatives have been ignored when pushing forward the 1BestariNet programme.”
This paper “seeks to provide constructive criticism, aimed at improving ICT services in education and how ICT is integrated into Malaysian classrooms”.
The highly centralised approach taken by the MoE is a blanket, one-size-fits-all policy that does not work, the Report reiterated.
The writer recommends that a decentralised approach, as taken by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, would serve the MoE well. “In New Zealand, each school leader is empowered, through guidelines provided by the government, to conduct a needs assessment for their respective schools to understand how best to integrate ICT into their schools.”
The paper also looks at the pivotal role ICT plays in classrooms to create more engaging lessons and have students learn at their own individual pace.
Additionally, two interviews with a teacher in a semi-urban school and an ICT teacher trainer showed that a lack of stable connectivity and teacher training in the appropriate use of ICT for lessons were the two key reasons for low ICT usage in classrooms.
Commenting on the release of the paper, IDEAS chief operations officer Tricia Yeoh said: “Like many other policies, the ICT in Education policy has fallen victim to the government’s numbers game. All government schools have been fitted with 4G connections, Chromelabs, and in some cases telecommunications towers, but it seems like priority is not being given to adequate connectivity and whether or not teachers are actually using the equipment. It is worrying that we have such low ICT usage in classrooms.”
“As this week is UNESCO’s Mobile Learning week, it seems the right time to ask the Ministry of Education why.”

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