Laptop computer, mosquito web and parang: How a pupil in Sarawak accepted e-learning within the jungle
In addition to her laptop and notes on e-learning, student Rose Nawie Anjap also needs to bring a parang to chop away the shrubs and bushes and create a comfortable place to study in the jungle.
“After all, we’re in the jungle. The parang also serves my safety,” she told LifestyleTech.
Rose, 24, lives in a long house in Pakan, Sarawak, a four to five hour drive from the capital, Kuching. On June 24th, a student from Pendidikan University told Sultan Idris last year on Facebook how she had to venture into the jungle to get a stable internet connection for e-learning.
She talked about getting up early to get to an area in the jungle where her family is tapping rubber. The spot has better internet connectivity than her longhouse, Rose said, adding that she has a seven-day mobile internet tariff.
“I had an online presentation that day from 9 am to 11 am. So I was sitting under a net to avoid mosquito bites. Otherwise I would have to spend a lot of time beating mosquitoes or scratching myself,” she said.
Rose said she wasn’t alone on her first day as her father was nearby when she tried to take another three-hour class that started at 2 p.m.
“I was unable to attend the class, however, as it was starting to rain at that time,” she said.
She was inspired to share her story after reading about Veveonah Mosibin, a Sabahan student whose YouTube video on how to stay in a tree for stable internet connection recently went viral.
By sharing her story, Rose wanted to raise awareness of the struggles of students in rural areas over e-learning and hoped that if her story were heeded by relevant parties, the situation would improve. Her Facebook post went viral with over 4,000 shares and received nearly 1,000 comments.
“I didn’t expect my story to go viral anytime soon. I am touched by the positive comments. I want to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement,” she added.
On June 25, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a statement that efforts are being made to improve internet connectivity and service in rural Sarawak.
“As of now, there are plans to build 185 new telecommunications towers in Sarawak under the National Fiberization and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), including seven in Pakan. All towers are expected to be ready and fully operational in the third quarter of 2021,” said MCMC.
The regulator said that aside from uneven terrain, getting into the jungle is difficult and that the lack of power is making it difficult for both MCMC and telecommunications companies to build more towers.
“Some of the alternative ways to solve this problem include using a satellite network and using a diesel-powered generator, but this can result in unstable coverage,” it said.
Rose said that MCMC was visiting Pakan on June 26th and told her it would bring improvements in her area.
“I hope to see some improvements soon as students are expected to continue e-learning for a long time. My online courses will continue through December 2020,” she said.