Manyin: E-textbooks not applicable in Sarawak yet


Manyin (left) hands over an award to a student, as Charles (second left) looks on.

SERIAN: Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin has questioned the move by the Ministry of Education in Putrajaya to introduce e-textbooks next year, in view of many parts in Sarawak still not having good Internet coverage.

He said while he did not ‘shoot down’ the idea completely, he said the time ‘is not right yet’ for such a move because many students in Sarawak do not have access to the Internet yet.

“It is not feasible yet for Sarawak since the e-textbooks need to be downloaded. Are all the e-textbooks (for the relevant subjects) ready for download?

“It is a good idea, but not (for) now,” he said when met after officiating at the excellence awards presentation ceremony in SMK Tebakang near here yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Education Teo Nie Ching had announced that e-textbooks would be introduced in secondary schools beginning next year, which would mean lighter schoolbags for the students.

She was quoted in the media reports as saying that the ministry was discussing whether to let students download these e-textbooks on their personal devices or on school devices. She also said the ministry would not be introducing e-textbooks to primary school pupils yet as the use of electronic devices at such an early age would have to be studied first.

Speaking to reporters at the ministry’s ‘Innovation Day’ event in Putrajaya on Friday, Teo said students would still have the option of using print textbooks while the details of the e-textbooks were still being ironed out.
Not all educationists, however, welcome the announcement.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan, for one, had told a national daily that students should not be allowed to download e-textbooks on mobile devices or tablets.

He was quoted as saying that perhaps, the ministry could work with the private sector to provide laptops and computers to all students, but warned that allowing smartphones or tablets in schools could result in students abusing these devices – some might use them to play games or access inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, the yesterday’s event at SMK Tebakang hosted the presentation of various awards to students for their achievements in academic and co-curricular activities

Form 5 students, who would be leaving the school soon after the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations next month, were also presented with certificates.

In his advice, Manyin encouraged the students to consider polytechnics as another option for tertiary education apart from universities.

He said jobs related to science and technology would be in greater demands in the near future, and they would also offer better pay.

“According to a survey, 80 per cent of jobs worldwide will be science and technology-related. That is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is important.

“My ministry aims to improve Sarawak’s performance in STEM. This year, the achievement is 23.2 per cent, an improvement from 19.7 per cent last year,” he said.

Manyin also declared open the new dining hall at the school, which was funded with RM650,000 government allocation from him. He also announced another RM250,000 to be allocated for upgrading works on school hall.

SMK Tebakang has 1,300 students, from Form 1 to Form 5, this year.

Manyin himself was the principal of SMK Tebakang for eight years – 1985 to 1993.

Serian District Council secretary Constantine Jonas, acting Tebedu district officer Joseph Liaw, SMK Tebakang principal Charles Kored Juut and the school’s parent-teacher association chairman Anthony Siong were among those present.