This is great news, and the reason why the New Straits Times gave this news item the page headline "Internet for all schools in two years", when reporting on Khalidís speech at the opening of the three-day national seminar on "Information Technology For Islamic Education 1997" at Pusat Islam yesterday.
I particularly welcome this announcement as I had heen repeatedly calling on the Education Ministry to launch a crash programme to put all schools and teachers online by the year 2,000 in keeping with the governmentís ambition to leapfrog Malaysia into the information society in the new millennium.
I call on the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to give a full report in next monthís Parliament as to how his Ministry proposes to connect all the 9,000 secondary and primary schools in the country to the Internet, especially as there are over 1,200 schools in Malaysia still without electricity supply or only with limited electricity supply.
In his speech, Khalid said that since August, 110 trainees for the nationís smart schools which comprise lecturers of teachersí training colleges nationwide are being trained to become trainers for trainee teachers at our colleges and schools.
He said that to date, a total of 1,751 primary and secondary schools teachers from throughout the country have been trained in information technology - in addition to 30,000 teachers who were trained to be computer literate since 1993.
This is clearly inadequate, for what is needed is a special programme to provide the 250,000 teachers in the country with the training and support they need to help students learn using computers and the information superhighway. In the Information society, the Internet should become the blackboard of every class.
There is no use of talking about popularising Information Technology literacy among the general population, when the teachers in our schools are still IT-illiterate.
For this reason, the Educaton Ministry should devise a crash programme to ensure that by the year 2,000 our entire teaching population become IT-literate, to acquire computer skills and the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity and performance, with supporting programmes as providing free-interest loans to teachers to buy personal computers and special discount rates for connecting to the Internet.