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Far-flung ‘classroom’ in oil palm smallholding

Murni Muda from Kampung Kemidak helping her children Eqbal Daniel Edy Putera and Eqzarra Sariesya with their online lessons at an oil palm smallholding in Bekok,Segamat, yesterday. PIC BY NST

SEGAMAT: Limited Internet access is a major problem for students in most rural areas, especially so in the Orang Asli village of Kemidak in Bekok near here.

Apart from affecting students from several schools here, poor connectivity is proving to be a dampener for undergraduates from the Orang Asli community.

In the era of new norms involving online learning sessions, these students have taken an innovative approach to get connected.

Yesterday, a New Straits Times photographer shot a picture of a group of students studying on a makeshift platform at a spot near a pondok (hut) in an oil palm smallholding, which, surprisingly, has good Internet connectivity.

Murni Muda, 39, said she took extra efforts to ensure that her two children’s education would continue despite the Movement Control Order 2.0.

Eqbal Daniel Edy Putera, 12, and Eqzarra Sariesya, 7, who are pupils of SJK(C) Bekok, have found it tough to follow online lessons from their home due to poor Internet connectivity.

Murni said she would send her children to the oil palm smallholding, located about 15km from her home, for better Internet connectivity. The place is owned by a resident.

Two Orang Asli children studying on a mat at the oil palm smallholding in Bekok,Segamat, yesterday. PIC BY NST

She and her children leave their home as early as 7.30am to ensure that the children do not lose out on their lessons.

“The owner gave us permission to use the spot, and his pondok (hut) for the online classes.”

Murni said since online classes kicked off several months ago, many students had made the spot at the oil palm smallholding their “classroom” to follow online lessons in the morning and afternoon.

She said at times, around 15 students, including undergraduates, would gather around and sit on plastic mats with their gadgets for their classes. Some even brought along food.

“The students are from SMK Bekok, SK Kudung and other schools nearby.”

She said the Internet connectivity in her village had been reasonably good in the past, but of late, it had been irregular and patchy.

“That is why the students ride their motorcycles to get here or are sent by their parents where they can continue with their lessons.”

Source: New Straits Times

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