Monday, May 16

Kelvin Yii: Raspberry Pi computers not suitable for students

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Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING (April 21): Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is urging the government to assist students to purchase full-fledged laptops and computers instead of supplying them with Raspberry Pi computers which have many issues.

Although a Raspberry Pi computer may have decent in-processing speed, he said it cannot be used to replace a full-fledged PC which is what the students and teachers need.

“Fact of the matter, there are other alternative devices around that price range that run on Windows which is something more familiar with the students and teachers,” he pointed out.

He added that these computers are not suitable, and not user-friendly to students and teachers, and may end up wasting RM12 million spent on them.

A sum of RM12 million was used to purchase about 10,000 Raspberry Pi computers for all 1,265 primary schools in Sarawak, reportedly at the end of 2020. To ensure that there is no element of wastage and that it is properly used in all the schools to aid in the teaching of the students in schools, he urged the state government to provide a clear and transparent report on it.

“The Sarawak government and the Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development must provide a clear and transparent report on their purchase of Raspberry Pi computers for all primary schools in Sarawak to properly determine whether it has achieved its target in terms of rate of impact for students in each school as well as its rate of utilisation in all schools, whether urban, semi-urban or rural schools,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Firstly, they must reveal exactly how many units of these compact single board computers were purchased, how many were sent to each school, exactly how much was spent for each unit and which company received the contract to supply such devices to the Sarawak government to ensure there are no possible corruption during the procurement of these devices, he said.

More importantly, he added, have these devices been properly used by the schools for the benefit of the students as they are not as ‘user-friendly’ and powerful as normal PCs or laptops which have become a necessity for students of every level.

“We have heard feedback that many teachers and school staff find it difficult to use these devices and there are many hurdles to even properly update or download each programme that is needed to get it running. Due to that, it has been left aside and not fully utilised.”

He pointed out that while the Raspberry Pi runs on a Linux Operating System, and may be a good device for engineers and even programmers to utilise to programme things on a low-cost device, it may be a bit more complicated especially for primary school students who are more used to Windows or MAC operating systems.

“The key to effective education is to remove barriers, not add them and provide obstacles to learning.

“While I acknowledge the usefulness of a Raspberry Pi in many other instances, but I have since the beginning questioned the suitability of these Raspberry Pi to provide a conducive learning environment for our primary school students especially in semi-rural and rural areas of Sarawak,” he stressed.