BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The majority of 3,000 surveyed Bruneians have said internet speed and costs as the major challenges of learning or working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a study from the Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT) showed.
Findings from the online study indicated that 69 percent of respondents had internet speed and performance issues while 52 percent said cost of internet subscription was a challenge while learning or working from home.
The study, which was conducted from April 17-23, aimed to understand Bruneians’ experiences of online learning and remote working as part of physical distancing measures to combat COVID-19.
Forty-eight percent of the respondents are students and educators while 30.2 percent of those polled were civil servants. Private sector employees, self-employed and unemployed individuals made up the rest of the respondents.
The survey included questions on occupation, home internet access, daily internet usage, cybersecurity measures and the types of online platforms used.
Only 33 percent of the respondents favoured working from home, with 75 percent of students and educators preferring to be in school.
The study indicated that civil servants are having difficulties shifting to online work when documents are still paper-based, as well as issues with bosses who are not supportive of remote working as some superiors still insist on holding meetings in person.
Educators were also experiencing issues assessing their students’ level of understanding, printing copies of students’ learning materials at their own expense and communication issues with parents.
On March 30, schools shifted to online learning and teaching as the education ministry closed all primary and secondary schools to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Many students further admitted to a lack of motivation and self-discipline while learning from home.
Other challenges stated in the survey were too many distractions at home, higher electricity bills, longer working hours, lack of a proper workspace at home and health concerns such as eye strain, headaches, back pain and eating more frequently.
The survey also asked respondents whether they take basic measures to prevent cyber attacks.
Forty percent said they did not install antivirus programmes, while two-thirds did not update their operating system, putting their device and data at risk.
Moreover, only 58 percent use a secured Wi-Fi connection for e-learning or telecommuting.
In terms of internet access, 72 percent of respondents said they have fixed broadband at home, while 16 percent are using mobile broadband and 11 percent only have internet access on their mobile phone.
Some 83 percent of respondents use a laptop for e-learning and telecommuting, while 74 percent use a mobile phone and 16 percent use a desktop computer.
More than half of those polled spent eight hours or more online each day, with civil servants spending shorter hours online compared to private sector employees.
Data also showed that social media use, online messaging and video calling have increased during home-based learning and working.
WhatsApp is the most common platform used for learning/working from home while half of the respondents also used Microsoft Teams.
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