KOTA BHARU – Eight-year-old Putra Airil Asraq Mohd Aqimie only went to school for two months before being confined at home due to the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March last year.
However, as he continued with his studies online, fate dealt him a cruel blow when he was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Since October last year, Putra Airil, who is now in Standard Two at Sekolah Kebangsaan Mulong, has undergone 16 cycles of chemotherapy.
His mother, Nurul Asyikin Razak, 32, said he is the eldest of three siblings and now follows the home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) classes, although she never forces him to do it.
“In his current condition, I do not want to put pressure on (Putra) Airil. But if he feels well and wants to follow the PdPR classes, I will sit with him until he completes his assignments.
“Each time after the chemotherapy session at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM), Kubang Kerian, he feels weak and his weight has also gone down to 17 kilogrammes,” she said at her home in Kampung Kedai Mulong, here, today.
Nurul Asyikin said her son needed to undergo chemotherapy treatment three times a month.
She and her mechanic husband, Mohd Aqimie Zulkifli, 37, are doing their best to ensure that any sort of treatment can be administered to cure the cancer. In 2017, her son was in remission of stage two liver cancer but suffered a recurrence last year.
“He is suffering from stage three liver cancer,” she said.
To provide the best treatment and care to Putra Airil, Nurul Asyikin decided to quit her job as a nurse at a private clinic to give full attention to her son.
She said they spend more than RM1,000 a month for their son’s needs, including for disposable diapers, the cost of commuting to the hospital as well as buying a special milk that costs RM54 a tin and which only lasts for two days.
Over 300 pupils from Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Pos Brooke in Gua Musang meanwhile, have yet to participate in online home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) sessions which started last week following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
This is because most of their parents cannot afford to buy the necessary devices or smartphones, besides facing broadband issues.
A father, Rashid Akoh, 54, said many of the parents here only work as labourers and some even depended on forest produce to survive.
“For the time being, there is no use for us to buy smartphones for the (PdPR) purpose because we are also facing unstable internet connection,” he said when met at Pos Brooke here, today.
He also expressed hope that the Education Ministry would donate or provide smartphones to the pupils.
Another parent, Isa Alang, 43, said to address this issue, the teachers of SK Pos Brooke have to resort to offline methods and provided exercise sheets for the pupils to do at home.
“When completed, the pupils will return the papers to their teachers for assessments,” he said, adding that online PdPR sessions were not the best method for those who live in the interior areas.
Channels for PdPR
Sirius TV, a satellite television station to be launched in the country in a related development, has offered two free channels to the Ministry of Education (MOE), to be used for the implementation of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) classes.
SMART Digital International Sdn Bhd (SMART) group executive officer, Khairuddin Abdul Rahman, in a statement today, said that the offer is part of SMART’s responsibility as the operator of the Sirius TV station to ease the burden of the public in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The use of these two channels will be able to help the MOE to broadcast educational content for primary and secondary schools more widely, as the SES – 12 satellite used by Sirius TV has excellent access throughout the country, including in rural areas.
“This also allows the MOE to provide a medium for students to access educational content in the form of recordings or live broadcasts without relying too much on internet access,” he said.
Khairuddin said that until now, however, MOE has not responded to Sirius TV’s offer.
SMART is a company that operates the Sirius TV station.
He said that by using Sirius TV’s two free channels, PdPR’s effectiveness would be able to be enhanced further, especially in areas where internet access is not satisfactory, as well as helping low-income families by not needing devices.
Khairuddin said that Sirius TV’s offer was in line with the proposal made by the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) to create an educational television channel accessible to students from all income levels and in rural areas.
He said that the Sirius TV satellite station will be officially launched in the first quarter of this year, with 30 channels and 12 months free subscription to consumers.