Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Long arm, eyes, ears & mouth of education required

Star Online - This remote Chinese school has just three students, but with live streaming technology, they share a classroom with hundreds (extracts):

Thanks to high bandwidth internet technology, the classrooms at Lumacha and other schools in the northwestern part of China are no longer quiet. — SCMP

Ten years ago, the grounds at Lumacha primary school in remote Dingxi, a farming village in the mountainous region of China’s Gansu province, overflowed with 300 students during class breaks. Today the schoolyard is a lot quieter: there are just three students.

The plummeting student population is a consequence of China’s urban migration, with millions of rural residents having moved to big cities over the past decade in search of higher paid jobs – most taking their kids with them.

Gansu province 

Dingxi just right (98 km East) of Lanzhou (in blue), the capital of Gansu

Gansu countryside 

Lumacha primary school is one of over 1,000 rural schools in the province ­that have less than five enrolled students, but as long as one student remains enrolled in the school, it has to stay open, according to Feng Ping, Lumacha primary school’s headmaster.

Now, thanks to high bandwidth internet technology, the classrooms at Lumacha and other schools in the northwestern part of China are no longer quiet – except that the chatter is coming across a live streaming network that connects hundreds of students spread across a vast area of China’s country side.

As part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s goal to eradicate poverty across the nation by 2020, the central government has funded initiatives aimed at narrowing the gap between the quality of education in rural and urban areas. In February Beijing authorities announced they would boost internet speeds in rural schools so they are on par with major cities within two years, with China Unicom, the country’s second-largest mobile network operator, providing 100 Mbps cable service to provincial schools.

Technology development has also been a priority for the central government, with the goal of improving the country’s living standards. [...]

winter in Gansu 

Gansu countryside 

school now has only 3 students 

... Lumacha’s classroom is equipped with high-speed wireless internet, a large smart touch screen display and a webcam, secured to the wall with tape, as part of the Chinese government’s push to provide better connectivity to rural schools. [...]

Once in the classroom they [students] eagerly turn on the touch screen display, which is connected to a nearby computer that runs on the Windows 7 operating system. One of them will expertly navigate the cursor on the screen and log in to an educational platform titled CCTalk, Hujiang’s interactive online learning platform, where the three students take part in live-streamed classes daily, raising their hands to answer questions asked by the remote teachers.

Lumacha primary school's current 3 students 

This is what Malaysia badly needs and can achieve, to serve:

(a) remote communities in Sabah and Sarawak,
(b) Tamil primary schools in Peninsular, and
(c) the Aborigine communities in Peninsular also.

interactive online learning platform for remote communities where school children can interact with a teachers and larger schooling population 

Such a system is not new and had long existed in Australia where its rural population has been spread over a large continent, and remote community of say, a population of only one family each, exists in areas as large as (or even bigger than) Penang Island.

Thus the Aussies developed a strategy to devise and design a communication system to serve the children's education in remote areas.

The difference between Aussie education of children in remote communities and those now of China's remote communities is that the Aussies then used (maybe still does) radio as the principal communicative tool whilst the Chinese now, with the modern benefits of Internet live streaming, use electronic-visual interactive online learning platforms.

Imagine what such a modern system can do for our kids in remote areas or those in schools with very low student population.

it's not just Sarawak that needs such a inter-communicative e-system - don't leave out the state education needs

Peninsula and Sabah also require it badly, especially for education of minorities


  1. Surprisingly, this article brings back some fond reminiscings about Lanzhou!

    Years ago, I was involved with a distant learning project in several outlaying locations around Lanzhou.

    Lanzhou has a predominant Hui Muslim population. They r friendly, helpful & very open-minded,VERY unlike the zombies here in bolihland.

    I also befriended an imam from Ningxia. That's whom I learned about most of the islamic doctrines & its idiosyncrasies.

    Lanzhou 手拉面 with those melt-in-the-mouth beef/lamb slices, tastes delicious. One can find an authentic Lanzhou 手拉面 at Melawati Mall in KL. But the beef cubes r just tasted not the same due to supply issue.

    Those days, the Internet access in most of the areas in China was just pathetically rudimentary. China had just awakened to the usefulness of Internet age.

    The central communist govt was pressing ahead with efforts to widen the reach of modern education to remote & poor communities all-over China.

    Internet was identified as the quickest mean to uplift the standard of living of these poor communities via education. Mobile internet was the prefered tool for doing so in remote & mountainous regions like Gansu/Xinjiang.

    Judging from the 4G broadband in video streaming widely available now. The central govt has been continuously pouring in a lot of money in doing so.

    About 10yrs ago, I decided to quit (homesick mah) & come back to M'sia. I wanted to transplant the remote education using mobile internet in remote areas of Sabah.

    I had gathered sufficient HW&SW supports from my tech contacts. But I had no financial resources then. Moreover, doing such project in remote & poor areas r REALLY not commercially sexy. In order for the project to be viable, external fund MUST be continuously flowing in as the projects r not profit orientated. The communist Chinese can mobilize huge finance/people bcoz of her determination in poverty eradication program.

    Then someone introduced me to MCMC's Universal Service Provider (USP) fund. This fund was setup by collecting contributions from all the mobile operators in bolihland, to facilitate mobile infrastructure in remote non commercial locations.

    Over the yrs, it has collected a big amount of fund BUT with very little results over its aims.

    The poor performance was/is due to

    1) paper pushers with poor tech know-how & concept implementation ability

    2) good undertable 'mining' opportunities.

    I come to know this when my introducer asked me to highly inflated the project cost.

    I refused to collaborate out of shear disgustingness!

    One of my foreign tech supplier upon hearing my story, propose to me to look at SA. The company has a lot of redundant 2G mobile equipments that can be reused in the poor developing countries. They have identified some SA countries for a start & the company is willing to bankroll the operation as part of their CSO agenda.

    However, for this project to success independently they need someone technically knowledgeable & willing to work 'cheaply'.

    To cut the story short, that's what happened now & I have an international team of young volunteers to oversee those SA projects.

    M'sia has the right resources, both tech & finance, to improve & subsequently eliminate the B40 poverty cycle.

    But, the human plague 人瘟 has totally retarded the time taken to do that!

    What a pity - for the wants of a few tongkat addicts, the whole nation is been sacrificed!

    1. CK, what you have written above is most interesting ! And your experience with the Hui Muslim in China....this is invaluable first hand encounter and learning. Many would be keen to know more....

      " What a pity - for the wants of a few tongkat addicts, the whole nation is been sacrificed!" Isn't this the oft-repeated lament most of us have... this blight that's been ongoing here for decades, and I guess will continue.....