GREAT POTENTIAL: Countries can optimise their talent, says Rosmah
DUBAI: COUNTRIES must meet the needs of gifted children, or lose them to other countries and lag behind in terms of progress, said Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor yesterday.
In her keynote address at the 12th Asia-Pacific Conference on Giftedness here, the wife of the prime minister said history had shown that countries that neglected education, particularly at an early stage, would struggle to boost their economies and shape their nations' characters, growth and social cohesion.
"If we miss out in helping the gifted and talented to grow exponentially, we'll suffer a brain drain and lose out in the race to create progress in our complex and technology-based environment.
"We must be able to say that we've done enough to prepare our gifted and talented students to be leaders who can meet the challenges of the 21st century."
Her speech was titled "Optimising the potential of the gifted and talented."
Rosmah was invited to attend the five-day conference because of her work with the Permata programme on early childhood education and care.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and United Arab Emirates' finance minister, opened the conference on Saturday.
Rosmah said people should dispel the notion that providing opportunities for such individuals would create elitism.
She said Malaysia had struck a balance between providing the best education for the gifted and talented and ensuring equal provision in education for all students.
She said it was imperative that different teaching and learning approaches were put in place for them.
"If we fail to provide education that meets their needs, we're likely to lose them to other countries, or they may drop out or become misfits.
"When groomed from young, their talent can be optimised to surpass the highest level of performance in any field.
"That's why some countries are willing to offer scholarships and even citizenship to attract these children and their parents."
She said education for the gifted, while emphasising and challenging them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, must also ground them in the humanities and multilingual competency.
Pedagogical approaches must help students learn and think critically as well as creatively about values and ethics, she added.
Rosmah said instilling ethics and values in these children's education would help them develop a deeper understanding of global problems and appreciate ethical ways in which technology could be developed, adopted and deployed.
She said Malaysia hoped to host the biennial conference in 2016.
The 2014 edition will take place in Shanghai. Bernama