Allow schools in safe zones to reopen, Education Ministry urged

THE Education Ministry should not close schools completely but open those which are located in either the yellow or green zones so that students would not fall further behind in their studies, says state executive councillor Chong Eng.

She said she is very concerned that while online learning is the norm, 37% of the students do not have any learning device.

“I don’t know how those without electronic devices are able to catch up with their studies.

“So, I really think our Education Ministry has to spend some time and allocation to enable the students of 2020 to catch up at every level; think about how it is going to affect them next year and their future.

“They should think about how to conduct classes with a small number. They cannot operate like normal. They can operate like three shifts, so each student spends two or three hours in school with their teachers.

“Otherwise our students will be left behind.

“I really hope we will come together- our task force, the ministry and corporates like YTL – to help our students who really need our support,” Chong Eng said during the e-learning devices handover ceremony by YTL Foundation and YTL Communications to the state government in Komtar today.


Chong Eng says 37% of students do not have any e-learning device.

Under the Penang E-Learning Computer Programme, Chong Eng said 233 laptops have been loaned out to students and teachers while 323 refurbished units have been given out free to students and 97 units to schools.

In addition to that, 299 units of discounted and refurbished e-learning devices have been sold to students and teachers while 60 units of routers have been contributed by YTL Communications to the underprivileged students.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was present to receive the e-learning devices from YTL Foundation and YTL Communications, said Chong Eng had highlighted a very important issue faced by students.

“They have been denied attending schools for so many days and months and they have been put in a situation that they can only study online.

“But as Chong Eng has pointed out, the ministry should rethink as all sectors are adapting themselves to the new norm.

“Education is also not spared from adapting to the new norm, so that learning and teaching can still continue under the new normal and not stop completely,” Chow said.


Wing says the ‘Home From Home’ initiative is part of his company’s corporate social responsibility.

The Penang government, he said, has so far given out over 1,000 of all kinds of devices, whether new or refurbished, since the Penang E-Learning Computer Programme was started.

“Refurbishing used computers is not as simple as it is and requires the collaborative efforts of many partners and other corporate sectors.

“We hope to continue with the project and do as much as we can.

“We hope that the Federal Government will also respond in a more effective way than us. We can only reach out to a small number. I think the ministry can do more and with a stroke of the pen, this issue can be addressed and resolved,” Chow said.

At the device handover ceremony, YTL Foundation, in collaboration with YTL Communications (YTLC), came forward to donate free YES 4G smartphones to the state government for 224 needy students in Penang.

So far, 76 of them have received the free smartphones while applications from a further 148 are being processed. The total contribution is valued at RM201,376.

Chow, in commending YTL for their ‘Learn From Home’ initiative, said he hoped more private sector would be on board to help the state develop and assist students.

When the conditional movement control order (CMCO) was reintroduced by the Federal Government on Nov 7, he said the state government started to receive calls from various principals and teachers seeking more e-learning devices to be loaned or handed over to needy students.

He said the E-Learning Task Force and his office managed to arrange 250 units of used laptops within three days which are now ready to be distributed to the underprivileged students.

To cover the expenses of the 250 units of used laptops, Chow said they have channelled the balance of RM198,000 for Chinese and mission schools allocation to the project. The money was initially reserved for the schools to organise educational activities which have since been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

YTL Communications director Wing K. Lee said the ‘Learn From Home’ initiative is part of his company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).

He added that they are providing the smartphones complete with 12 months of free YES service with 120GB of 4G data to the needy students.

Also present were state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, Swisspac Resources Sdn Bhd general manager Ryan Lim and Penang E-Learning Computer Programme vice-chairman Ngoo Seong Boon.

Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Law Suun Ting
Video by Darwina Mohd Daud