by ASILA JALIL / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD
THE Cerdik initiative is slow in its initial rollout due to various factors including the disruption in supply chain caused by the nationwide movement restrictions.
The initiative came under fire previously with the Opposition questioning the slow distribution of laptops to students in need amid school closure.
Yayasan Hasanah MD Shahira Ahmed Bazari said many factors contributed to this, among which was caused by the various phases of Movement Control Order (MCO).
“We would like to recap that Cerdik is not a one-off device donation drive, but a pilot initiative to drive long-term digital learning in public schools in Malaysia,” she told The Malaysian Reserve.
She said all devices distributed under Cerdik have been fitted with Internet access, a minimum of one to three years’ warranty, and will serve a student for at least three years of their academic journey through school.
Yayasan Hasanah, an impact-based foundation of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, is the secretariat for the initiative.
The initiative was first announced by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz in his Budget 2021 speech last year where government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies will contribute RM150 million into Tabung Cerdik to provide 150,000 students in 500 schools with laptops as a pilot project to facilitate online education.
The rollout, which was supposed to kick off in February, was delayed and raised questions from various parties on its efficiency to assist students amid the pandemic.
According to Cerdik’s official website, 52,689 units have been distributed to students in 415 schools as of June 24 and 6,446 units are in the process of distribution.
The balance 90,845 units are expected to be completed by end-September 2021.
Besides Cerdik, Shahira said Yayasan Hasanah will be coordinating funding amounting to RM300 million for government-related Covid-19 responses this year.
The foundation’s total expenditure last year stood at RM123.05 million where 80% of the projects coordinated were pandemic-related.
“2020 was a record-breaking year for Yayasan Hasanah as we delivered at greater speed, at an increased volume and for immediate impact across the five focus areas (education, environment, community, arts and public spaces and knowledge).
“During this period, Yayasan Hasanah mobilised five times more projects and partners, and doubled its reach to impact over 322,000 people in need through our grants,” she said.
To further assist vulnerable communities in the country, she said the Finance Ministry had set aside RM25 million for Hasanah Special Grant 2 (HSG2) which will be launched this month.
It is aimed at improving the quality of life of marginalised and vulnerable bottom 40% communities in the country and helping them recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Among the activities that may be supported under the grant include those that promote economic empowerment, building of human capital and social inclusivity.
The grant also plans on supporting activities that provide social services including counselling services, such as for mental wellbeing and psychosocial support to vulnerable communities and protection of vulnerable women and children.
Shahira said projects under the grant can be implemented over a duration of 12 to 24 months from September 2021 onwards and the maximum fund size for any project is RM1,000,000.
“HSG2 will be managed end-to-end by Yayasan Hasanah, utilising its well-established existing governance, processes and procedures.
“Through HSG2 we hope to create real and lasting socioeconomic changes for Malaysia,” she added.