Way back in 1999, the Government embarked on an ambitious programme to transform the nation’s education system into the digital age. I have written quite a few times about this so called Smart School initiative. The programme started with a bang but ended in a poof prompting a lot of brutal criticisms about its not so savvy end result. What many people did not realised, the implementation was fraught with constraints that down sized the project to bits and pieces rather than a wholesome concept as per the conceptual blueprint. Unfortunately the supporting internet infra structure were not up to mark to fully support the implementation. Hence the scenario of students and teachers learning and teaching on line were not fully realised. The main bone of contention is the poor Internet connectivity, even with the advent of SchoolNet. The terrible throughput of the internet became the achilles heel of the smart school teaching learning implementation. So learning anywhere anytime became a hollow slogan.
Fast forward ten years, with the Government renewed vigour in propelling the country into a high income nation, high speed internet connectivity has been identified is a prerogative that can no longer be left to its natural progression. End to end internet solution must be made available if we were to compete. Enter 1BestariNet – an end to end internet solution for schools – to replace the ailing SchoolNet.
1Bestarinet is a solution that comprises not merely internet connectivity with flexible broadband bandwidth but a solution with security management services, virtual learning environment and a project management office.The beauty of the solution is unlike the previous project where the government had to pay for the infra irrespective of the quality of the services rendered, 1BestariNet requires the Government pay as per usage. Just like water and electricity. If there is no connection and no service, we do not pay. The internet meter would be used. The virtual learning environment (VLE) would provide the learning management system to manage teaching and learning on line – as per the proposal put forward in the Smart School blue print put forth more than 10 years ago. So we are back to the future.
With 1BestariNet which is scheduled to be rolled out next year, internet connectivity should be available at every nook and corner of the school. With the current SchoolNet setup, Internet connection in the school vicinity would depend on the school’s LAN. With1Bestarinet, the solution would include the LAN connectivity as well. Additionally the school would become the local hub for internet in the locality where business entities can use the internet services provided. Here lies the extra incentive for the solution provider to provide a good service or risk not attracting local businesses to use its services. This drastic model will hopefully spur the ISP to provide the best service. The proposal also include flexibility to the size of the bandwidth which is expandable according to the demand of the users. If the system detect a surge in internet usage, the bandwidth would automatically increase its size to as big as 50Mbps. Well of course, it is not as big as 100Mbps, the norms in advanced countries. But it is definitely far better than the current 2Mbps best effort!
Let hope our journey back to the future would be a successful one. The big question is, are our teachers ready to embrace this facility and take full advantage to improve the quality of teaching and learning?