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Joint initiative to address education disparity in Sarawak’s rural communities

Posted on 19 Mar 2024
Source of News: The Borneo Post


Sagah, flanked by Harden (seated, third left) and Anielia, joining (seated, from left) Samri, Siti Zulaiha, Chew and Yahya, in a group photo with the teachers, schoolchildren and other guests after the programme launch at SK Ulu Segan.
BINTULU (March 19): The ‘Bridging Learning Loss for Rural Primary School Students in Sarawak’ is hailed as a ground-breaking initiative meant to address learning disparities in Sarawak’s rural communities through innovative digital solutions.

Funded by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Yayasan Hasanah, the programme was launched at SK Ulu Segan here yesterday, where Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development Sarawak (MEITD) Dato Sri Roland Sagah Wee Inn officiated at the event.

In his speech, Sagah said technology has the power to not only bridge ‘learning loss’ gaps, but also foster a culture of innovation and inquisitiveness that would prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.

“However, technology alone is not the panacea for educational inequities. It is the dedication and commitment of our teachers and school leaders that will determine the success of this initiative,” he said.

 

In this regard, Sagah called upon all dedicated teachers and school leaders to embrace this initiative wholeheartedly.

The programme was carried out by MEITD in collaboration with a social enterprise, Chumbaka Sdn Bhd, with the support also coming from the state Education Department (JPN).

According to Chumbaka chief executive officer Dr Chew Yen Seng, the programme is meant to benefit more than 900 school-children.

“The primary objective is to equip and support ‘Pemulihan’ (Rehabilitation) and English language teachers with the necessary digital tools and resources.

“By addressing the prevalent issue of ‘learning loss’, especially in English and Mathematics, the programme aims to empower educators and uplift students, ensuring that they reach their full potential.

“To support schools and build the capacity in the teachers, the programme will involve the training of teachers from 40 participating schools in teaching methodologies and the utilisation of ‘Kayam School’ digital content.

“These trained educators would then implement the learning intervention programme within their respective schools, from March to December.

“Kayam derives from the Iban word for ‘play’, and is founded on the ‘Kit Kit School App’, an open-source solution that clinched the co-winner title at the Global Learning XPRIZE in 2019, earning a grand prize of US$10 million.

“Kayam School offers interactive learning content for Mathematics, English and Digital Literacy, catering to students from preschool to Year 3.”

 

Chew added that the app had undergone extensive field testing in 21 remote villages in Tanzania, from August 2017 to March 2019, involving 421 students.

“It has yielded unprecedented results. We are optimistic about replicating, even surpassing, these achievements here in Sarawak.

“With the dedicated support of our selected teachers and the PPDs (district Education offices), we aim for our students to advance by at least Level 2 proficiency command in English and Mathematics,” he said.

Chew also pointed out that while this initiative was still in its pilot phase, the hope would be for its success to pave the way for broader benefits to students across Sarawak in the future.

According to JPN Sarawak deputy director (Learning Sector) Siti Zulaiha Ibrahim, the six participating PPDs are PPD Bintulu, PPD Belaga, PPD Tatau/Sebauh, PPD Daro, PPD Sibu and PPD Kapit.

“For 2024, it (programme) involves about 1,400 remedial students in Year 2 and Year 3 in Sarawak. Hopefully, the programme would give positive input to 40 primary schools and 80 teachers.”

Also present at the event were Deputy Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, representative of MEITD permanent secretary Anielia Siam, PPD Bintulu officer Samri Suhaili and SK Ulu Segan headmaster Yahya Piduman.