Malaysia's netbook scheme hit by woes

Malaysia's netbook scheme hit by woes
Malaysia Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan expressed confidence that the 15 Tamil schools in Kuala Lumpur would continue getting assistance and resources from the Federal Territory Education Department.

The Education Ministry admits there have been problems in its 1Malaysia netbook programme due to poor quality laptop computers that were distributed.

Deputy minister P. Kamalanathan said among the weaknesses that had been identified were equipment malfunction and software problems.

"The main problems usually involved how a user used the laptops and also component problems.

"Software problems, however, will not take too much time to solve and could be settled on the same day the netbook is sent for repair," he said.

Among initiatives taken to solve the problem, said Kamalanathan, was to give warranty and the necessary information about the manufacturers and the service locations for the laptops.

He was replying to Mohd Imran Abdul Hamid (PKR - Lumut), who had asked the ministry on action taken against suppliers who changed the hardware of the 1Malaysia netbook to a lower quality replacement product.

"Among the brands we use are HP, Lenovo and Acer, but we have to admit there are problems with some of our laptops," Kamalanathan said.

However, he added, if the ministry found that either the manufacturers or suppliers had changed the hardware to cheaper alternatives and failed to follow the right procedures, they could be fined up to RM3,000 (S$1,200).

He said although the cost of each netbook was estimated to be about RM1,000, manufacturers should not change the hardware to a cheaper version and distribute it to eligible students.

"We have distributed over 800,000 netbooks to schools nationwide with the aim to reduce the digital divide between urban and rural students in our education system," he added.

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