YTL Communications fined RM2.4 million over 1BestariNet, says ministry

Putrajaya has fined YTL Communications Sdn Bhd RM2.4 million for failing to provide all 10,000 schools with the 1BestariNet e-learning project, the Education Ministry said today.

It said that 1,003 schools had not been equipped with 1BestariNet because YTL Communications had failed to obtain approval from the local authorities to build telecommunication towers in several states, particularly Sarawak, Penang and Kelantan.

“Due to the delays, the government had fined YTL Communications RM2.4 million on October 27, 2014,” the Education Ministry said in a statement today.

It added that the ministry had provided Internet connection to those schools through other service providers to allow the students to carry out their studies online.

The 1BestariNet project is aimed at installing high-speed 4G broadband across all 10,000 schools throughout the country, as well as a VLE platform for E-Learning.

The Auditor-General's (A-G) report revealed today that the Internet connection to 4,176 users of the RM663 million 1BestariNet project was delayed by between 12 and 439 days, with no time extension or fines levied.

The A-G also said that 89.1% of the 46 schools surveyed and 70.3% of the 491 feedback received by the schools found that 1BestariNet coverage does not encompass the entire schools' compound.

But the Education Ministry today attributed the slow Internet in some schools to the high volume of users.

“With the existence of wifi in schools, this facility provides the space and opportunity for other handheld devices to use the Internet through the 1BestariNet network.

“This indirectly increases the number of users which in turn leads to high traffic for an Internet network with a capacity of 4Mbps,” it said.

The ministry said that it has ordered schools to provide schedules on Internet usage and given them dongles (wireless broadband connection devices) to solve the problem.

In revealing a litany of shortcomings in the project awarded to YTL Communications to provide the infrastructure to 10,000 schools nationwide within 30 months from December 13, 2011, the A-G report also noted that usage of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE ) by teachers, students and parents was “very low”, said to be between 0.01% and 4.69% only.

Daily utilisation of the e-learning by students was found to be between 0.17% and 0.63%, while usage by teachers was from 0.57% to 4.69%. The usage of the e-learning by parents was the lowest, at between 0.01% and 0.03%.

In the third series of the report released in Parliament today, the A-G attributed the low usage to lack of clear policy and monitoring, lack of exposure to the benefits of VLE as well as a lack of teaching aids, such as projectors and laptops.

But the Education Ministry today shrugged off the findings that only 5% of students are using the project, saying that the lack of usage was common for new ICT programmes.

“With regards to the A-G’s findings on the VLE, it must be noted that the VLE is the most important component of the 1BestariNet project. The usage level in the first three years is at 5%, which is common for ICT integration transformation programmes. – November 10, 2014

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