KUANTAN: The government will ensure that low-density, rural and interior areas are provided with sufficient internet coverage, to facilitate students to learn online, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the government will also ensure that there are no more situations where students have to climb trees just to get internet coverage.

“I have already informed the Digital Minister (Gobind Singh Deo), that, from the end of this year, there will be no more students climbing trees to get coverage, because we have 5G.

“We have 5G, so we will continue to provide coverage for low population, low-density areas, villages, Felda and Orang Asli settlements and interior areas; it is mandatory to be provided with sufficient coverage,” he said when officiating the national-level Teacher's Day Celebration, here today.

Also present were Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek and Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

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Apart from that, Ahmad Zahid said as many as 8,104 computer laboratories in schools need to be upgraded, and able to be fully used by teachers and students, in an effort to ensure that the Digital Education Policy achieves its objectives.

“I hope that the ministry (Ministry of Education) makes this matter a priority. I was also informed that the supply of teaching and learning (PdP) devices to students, at computer laboratories, has been implemented in phases.

“Starting from 2022 until now, it has benefited 11,220 schools, where 213,014 laptop units have been provided. I will discuss with the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) so that additional funds for the supply of these devices can be approved, as requested by the ministry,” he said.

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He also said that he will discuss with the Prime Minister, so that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be given a higher budget in the next budget, compared with RM58.7 billion in the 2024 Budget, to provide sufficient learning equipment, as well as various other initiatives.

In the meantime, Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Minister of Rural and Regional Development, said that the country, which is currently in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), needs an education system which produces students fluent in digital technology so that they can compete and meet the needs of the job market, in line with the evolution of the digital world.

Therefore, Ahmad Zahid said that MOE needed to formulate a strategy, to ensure the ability of digital technology to become part of the cultural tradition of acquiring knowledge, among the MADANI generation.

“The aspiration of a MADANI nation is a nation which is knowledgeable, moral, and progressive. In this regard, the role of the teacher is very important. Education and technology are the main keys to forming a competitive and harmonious society.

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“Therefore, the theme of ‘Guru Jauhari Digital, Aspirasi Negara MADANI’ is very suitable to support the Digital Education Policy which was launched on Nov 28, 2023 by Fadhlina Sidek, for us to improve the educational capability, which is enshrined as one of the seven main cores of MOE,” he said.

A total of 3,000 educators, from all over the country, attended the celebration today, which witnessed the former deputy director-general of Education Datuk Sulaiman Wak being named the Tokoh Kepimpinan Pendidikan Kebangsaan 2024 recipient.

Meanwhile, the former history teacher, who is now the head of the panel at the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YaPEIM), Masariah Mispari, was named Tokoh Guru Kebangsaan 2024.