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DuckiePi Computer Lab to Assist the B40

Every goverment must ensure that education is accessible for everyone, especially for children who are behind in their studies due to the pandemic situation.

by K. Vatsala Devi

The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated online learning which then highlighted the lack of smart devices amongst the B40 group. To help the struggling community, Taylor’s University launched the DuckiePi Computer Lab, equipped with DuckiePi learning devices created by its students, at NZX Commercial Centre to benefit the surrounding PPR Lembah Subang 1 and 2 communities.

From left to right: Tuan Anuar Salleh bin Kamarulzaman, Chairman of Persatuan Integrasi Usahawan Selangor (PIUS), Assoc Prof Dr Anthony Ho, Pro Vice Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Taylor’s University, YB Puan Maria Chin Abdullah, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya, Tuan Anwar Bin Nekhan, Ahli Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya Zon 4 at the launch of the DuckiePi Computer Lab at NZX Commercial Centre.

This is part of an ongoing effort by the university to bridge the digital and education divide among B40 communities that have been exacerbated due to a lack of devices, resulting in children being unable to attend virtual classes or have little access to learning resources.

Taylor’s College Extending a Helping Hand with DuckiePi

The DuckiePi Computer Lab, which is currently located in ChilHub operated by Persatuan Integrasi Usahawan Selangor, is used by Me.reka Belia to conduct digital literacy programmes to equip teenagers and budding B40 entrepreneurs with web and digital skills.

“It is important that education is accessible for everyone, especially for these children who are behind in their studies due to the pandemic situation. These devices empower the children and provides them with opportunities to attain knowledge and to ensure the learning never stops,” said Maria Chin Abdullah, MP of Petaling Jaya.

Built with a cost of RM500 each, Taylor’s has raised over RM70,000 to donate 158 DuckiePi across the country thus far.

Developed by students as a part of a Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace (TMM) project, the DuckiePi is powered by the Raspberry Pi, a single board computer the size of a credit card and has applications like Zoom and Google Suites, with mic and camera functions.

The DuckiePi devices were developed by Taylor’s students and alumni, Bernard Yap Kah Huan, Ong Wea Hung, Ang Jia Hui (Jasper) and Norman Heng Chon Sheng, from mechanical engineering, IT, and computer science faculties.

Associate Professor Dr Anthony Ho Siong Hock, Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) of Taylor’s University, said that this project was borne out of the Taylor’sphere, which is a learning ecosystem and community that nurtures students’ intellectual, mental, and emotional growth to future-proof students with the right skills and setting themselves up for success in today’s world.

“As the pandemic continues to disrupt learning for five million Malaysian students, our students from Taylor’s Makers Club, Robotics Club, and Agents of Tech have joined forces to develop Taylor’s DuckiePi. Mentored by Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace, a collaborative learning hub that is part of the Taylor’sphere ecosystem, our students applied what they learnt in their degrees to make an impact on the communities around them,” said Assoc Prof Dr Ho.

Anis Kamalia Binti Kamarulzaman, who started a food business that operates via online platforms, attended the digital literacy courses provided at the DuckiePi Computer Lab upon realizing the importance of up-skilling.

“I found the modules very useful especially regarding operating online businesses, developing content and Google keywords,” said Anis Kamalia. “The DuckiePi Computer Lab really helps the community here because many of us only have phones – hence the lab is a useful resource for school work or even for our own business ventures.”

In addition to the Computer Lab, devices have been donated to families in PPR Lembah Subang, school children and teachers in the rural school of SK Long Sukang in Lawas, Sarawak, as well as families across Malaysia through various NGOs.

Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace is also encouraging Malaysians to play a part in making education accessible for everyone. The DuckiePi is currently retailing at RM500 each, with profits going towards building more devices for the community. Malaysians can donate to support the production of these devices, via https://form.jotform.com/210053840948455.

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