Scandals

Google Classroom gets nod & 1BestariNet Frog VLE got booted out

PETALING JAYA: Teachers and parents are glad that the troublesome Frog virtual learning environment (VLE) and 1BestariNet will no longer be used in schools.

Teacher M. Punitha described the Frog VLE as very “user-unfriendly”.

The secondary school teacher from Melaka said she was excited to hear that Google Classroom would take over.

On Thursday, the Education Ministry announced that the contract with 1BestariNet to provide Internet access to schools nationwide would end tomorrow.

It also said when Phase 2 of the 1BestariNet service expired, schools would replace Frog VLE with Google Classroom.

“Google Classroom is not only free but easy to learn. We don’t need to attend courses and teachers are not being forced to use it,” said Punitha, adding that she had used the programme for the past two years to file her lesson plans.

She said most schools used both applications but Frog VLE was the official platform for the ministry.

“Schools have no choice but to use the old platform as metrics were being recorded.

“But about a month ago, teachers were told to back up their teaching content on Google Drive.

“We knew something was going to happen,” she said.

Punitha said a lot of money was spent on 1BestariNet but not everyone was using it, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

1BestariNet was introduced in 2011 to provide high-speed wireless 4G Internet to over 10,000 schools in the country.

The 15-year project cost taxpayers RM4.077bil.

However, various complaints, such as Internet installation delays and poor broadband access were highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report and Public Accounts Commi­ttee in 2013 and 2014.

Koay Yan Lin, another secondary school teacher, agreed as she felt that Google Classroom was easier to navigate than Frog VLE.

“There’s no further information on the new platform, so we are not sure how it’s going to be,” she said.

The National Union of the Teach­ing Profession said it fully supported the ministry’s decision to terminate 1BestariNet and Frog VLE.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan said Google Classroom was “more cost effective, easily available and user friendly”.

“Most importantly, it is current, convenient and connected,” he said, adding that many teachers were against 1BestariNet and Frog VLE due to various problems.

“The ministry can change it anytime as there is no contract or money involved,” he said.

A parent, who wanted to be known as Chee, said he was delighted the contract was not renewed.

“The plan should have been scrapped a long time ago as it was ineffective and did not benefit the majority of teachers and students,” he said.

Parent Action Group for Edu­cation Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said: “It is crucial that Internet access is equal for all urban and rural schools to ensure there is no digital divide.”

She said the capability of a teacher to use technology to teach and the school’s management as well as support for teachers should also be taken into consideration when implementing the new platform.

“Teacher readiness to new approaches and thinking is a perennial problem,” she said.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/29/google-classroom-gets-nod/#dASRGZPBhHYxjlCt.99

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To refresh our mind on this scandal we re-publish a report by mindarakyat blogspot on the extend of damage done and the potential scandal involved..you be the judge!
 
LEAK ALERT: 1Bestarinet Scandal unravels RM19,000 monthly Internet bill per school for 30Mbps to YTL (by Executive Editor | Februari 08, 2019)
 
Malaysia is still traumatized by mega scandals of 1MDB, ECRL and HSR, legacies of the previous government, and now, a massive financial turmoil for Malaysian education relating to 1Bestarinet project is exposed.
 
This colossal loss in paying for a substandard project have not only made the government coffers suffered for the past 8 years, but it has also wiped out the domestic small medium industry in Malaysian education, costing thousands of employments. YTL today have retained as a monopolistic power in supplying to the Ministry of Education.
 
1Bestarinet prevailed the scrutiny of Public Accounts Committee of March 2015 and continues to supply Ministry of Education with extortionate pricing, for last mile Internet connectivity and e-Learning software.
 
Recently, a member of the Ministry have came forward spelling out the shear extent of the financial damage 1Bestarinet have caused and is still causing. The source explained that there are no faults in the contract and fulfillment of 1Bestarinet.
 
However, once the costings are analyzed, the contract unravels shocking prices that were imposed, and further horror becomes evident when the end product inventory were audited.
 
It is hard to digest that common sense could agree to such brutal pricing.
 
It was said from the source that the second phase of the contract which covers the period of June 2016 to June 2019, agreed to a supply of last mile Internet at RM130 per month per Mbps for school’s computer labs. This means that at 6Mbps each school is charged RM783 per month, at 10Mbps each school is charged at RM1,304, and at 15Mbps each school is charged RM 1,955.
 
These exorbitant pricing have allowed YTL to scrap off an easy profit of RM300 million a year for inadequate Internet supplied to school computer labs.
 
If these prices are not extreme enough if compared to your regular broadband providers, schools are also supplied with a 30Mbps broadband via a dedicated fibre, with the excuse to maintain constant connectivity, at a mind blowing RM19,000 per month for just the school’s computer lab.
 
From what can cost only RM89 per month with your regular last mile providers, YTL have made an argument to justify the dedicated line model with a 99% service level agreement similar to those of a data center and mega online companies for usage in schools that does not operate 24hours.
 
YTL is making 21,350% more than what the industry should logically charge for a similar use, and this alone have allowed the company to overcharge an additional RM100million.
 
This 2nd phase contract which amounts to more than RM 1.5billion for a 3 year period, has always been kept a secret by YTL and the Ministry, with clauses in the contract stating that it will compromise national secrets. With these sort of deception, no wonder this dubious contract have been kept hush hush all this time.
 
Whilst always been criticized for its poor last mile connection, YTL have always defended 1Bestarinet in arguing that the e-Learning platform provided by the company is beneficiary to teachers and students, and that should it be taken away, the whole education system will simply collapse.
 
For this e-Learning platform named Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the Ministry pays RM1,668 per month for each school and teacher’s institute, totaling 10,556, whereby more than 2,000 of these schools are remote schools that then requires what is called Frog Apparatus, costing an additional RM450 per month due to usage of VSat system rather than wireless towers.
 
Frog VLE component of the contract alone, costs the government more than RM650 million, for something which is hardly used by students are are mostly not known by parents.
 
When audited, the findings over Frog VLE were simply astonishing. This is where some gruesome figures are revealed.
 
After 8 years in operation, the Frog VLE which is an all time online web portal provides Malaysian students with 828 PDF books, out of which 576 are free collection from Ministry of Education textbooks and Project Gutenberg public domain free collection. The rest are marketplace offerings whereby student will need to pay extra to obtain the online books.
 
The figures gets better, Frog VLE continues to claim its delivery of world class standards in education by the umpteen amount of educational videos it provides. True enough there are 6,785 videos served from free collections including that of Edunation and Khan Academy.
 
The vomiting part is that these videos are served as a dedicated page with links from Google Youtube. The norms is that these services are free for use, nonetheless YTL have manage to charge outrageous subscription fees to Ministry of Education in a conniving package call Frog VLE.
 
Frog VLE also provides an authoring tool which allows teachers to encourage students to create contents in form of blogs in order to fulfill key performance indexes. Over the 8 years, this program have registered more than 45 thousand blogs being created. Nonetheless, when looked in detail, only 1,200 of these blogs are complete, which is a mere 2.6% of the total numbers. The rest are just test pages students made during practices.
 
Will 1Bestarinet disrupt education if it is taken away, definitely not. The amount of money that is overcharged for this service can be made for better use in many more much lacking areas in schools and canteens.
 
We really hope that Malaysia baharu will act with justice and that MyCC, MACC and other parties will look into this matter seriously, and this can all start by asking the Ministry for a copy of the 1Bestarinet contract. May justice prevails for Malaysia.
 

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