Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN MALAYSIA

Saturday, September 29, 2012 0
Malaysia has embarked on a tremendous paradigm shift, moving forward digitally to be part of the Information Age in the new millennium by promoting the use and development of information communication technology (ICT) in Malaysia. Recognizing that ICT is here to stay and is certainly the crucial enabling tool to increase the efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of any nation, various initiatives have been taken to narrow the digital divide in Malaysia. Education is accorded as high priority in the national development agenda. The quality of education must meet the demand and supply situation in bridging the gap concerning technology. The critical demand is to ensure technology literacy is acquired by Malaysians, to make them evolve together with the rapid progress of ICT. Thus, institutions of higher learning must supply the needed knowledge and skills, offering technology related courses and training to produce highly literate people who will then disseminate the important knowledge and share the useful skills within the society. Institutions of higher learning must extremely promote the use of ICT to expedite administrative processes, organize on-campus instruction and encourage distant learning where higher education is assessable anytime, anywhere. They have to exercise student-oriented learning with an increasing use of internet-based courseware, online educational resources and online discussions as these valuable experiences will subsequently be a great asset to function well in the organization they join after they graduate. The experts at institutions of higher learning must conduct on-going researches and develop productive networking with other experts from other institutions around the globe to enhance the advancement of technology and to find effective solutions to narrow the available digital gap. The industry plays a vital role too. They must work hand in hand with other parties in the effort to bridge the digital divide as they have the capital to make a vast difference to evolve the society, economy and technology. Big national companies like Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TMB), Jaring, Petronas and multi-national companies like IBM, Motorola and Fujitsu, have donated generously towards the eradication of the digital divide problem. Maxis has done good work through its Maxis Cyberkids programme which aims to bridge the digital gap by targeting school children in rural areas. With such dedication, these companies can reach the masses, especially the unfortunate in rural areas through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. As the rural residents focus primarily around their survival more than technology due to their very low affordability, big industry players can contribute computer centres to promote the use of technology there, bringing them closer to the digital era. In Malaysia, the people are very fortunate as the commitment of the government is clearly seen through the establishment of various policies to enable the development of physical infrastructure as a means of facilitating the efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of the people and economy, along with the transformation of the country into a developed nation by 2020. The government has also targeted a 90-percent online usage of its services among the public by 2015. Malaysia’s National Broadband Plan aims at increasing household broadband internet penetration from 26% to 50%, thereby enabling “Connected Government”, an initiative launched in 2007 for zero face-to-face interaction to boost information sharing, integration and interoperability amongst government bodies and the public Government portals help people access their services easily, from anywhere and at any time. The recently launched 1Malaysia Broadband Affordable Package offered for as low as RM20 per month for wireless network and as low as RM38 per month for wired network, is a part of the government's initiatives to close the digital gap among the people in the country. Through MSC Malaysia, the government attracts world-class technology companies while grooming the local ICT industry. Lastly, there must be a change of mindset among rural community. The acceptance and assimilation of technology in daily routines is unavoidable. They too must embrace the challenge and take necessary efforts to keep abreast with the advancement of technology. They must accept the fact that technology is a helpful tool, and not a disastrous burden. Thus, they must support the government’s efforts, and not oppose with negativity. The responsibility of eradicating the digital divide does not lie solely on the government alone. It must be collaboratively done together by all players as the success of this effort will bring benefits to all parties. Together, we proudly move forward into the digital world.