Rural children make do with sharing the only smartphone the family has to catch up with online lessons. Photo: Bernama

SEMPORNA: There is no other option for some students but to wait in line with their other siblings to participate in the online Learning and Facilitation (PdPc) session using only one smartphone during the closed school session following the movement control order (MCO).

Like it or not, this situation is being faced by a number of students living in farm areas and islands around here and nearby districts because what is important for them is to continue learning despite inefficient internet access and the challenge of not owning electronic devices.

A Form Three student of a secondary school in the district, who wants to be known only as Sarah said she shared a smartphone belonging to her mother with three other siblings, aged 10, 13, and 14 years, to participate in the online PdPc sessions conducted by their respective teachers.

“Mother’s phone is the only medium for us to continue our PdPc sessions online. This is all we can afford. The important thing is that learning is still ongoing,” she said when contacted by Bernama.

Sarah, 15, who lives in an oil palm plantation about 23 kilometres from Semporna, said her mother, who is a housewife, advised her to use the smartphone according to the time allocated to be more organised.

“My three siblings will be using mother’s smartphone in the morning and evening, while my turn will be at night. We are allocated three hours each to participate in an online PdPc session.

“Besides, it will take me two to three days to complete and submit the assignments given by teachers due to the not so efficient internet access. However, I will notify the teacher if it takes too long to submit the assignment,” said Sarah who aspires to be a teacher.

Meanwhile, another student Nurazlizamudin Nurdin, 15, said he also had to share his mother’s smartphone with his two other siblings, aged 17 and 10, by taking turns.

“After my elder sister and younger sibling finish their PdPc session in the morning and evening, then only I use my mother’s smartphone to do my work at night,” he said, adding that they also experienced low internet access where they lived in a village in Pulau Bum-Bum, near here.

Nurul Afiqah Athirah Maksudin, 12, from a primary school in a plantation about 89 kilometres from Lahad Datu, said she spends two hours a day participating in the online PdPc session from 9 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 4 pm using her mother’s smartphone or on her elder sister’s smartphone, who is a Form Three student.

“It takes me about a day to complete an assignment. I’ll take a picture of the assignment first and send it via WhatsApp. Slow internet speed sometimes delays this process including opening task links.

“For that reason, I prefer the classroom technique of learning compared to the online one because I can consult directly with teachers,” said the second of four siblings who aspires to be a teacher. – Bernama