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Dr Maszlee Malik (left) together with Serena Zara Taufiq (centre), founder of Serena’s Secret, a jewellery startup

THE Education Ministry will be implementing three policy shifts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education under the STEM For All (STEM4ALL) initiative, says Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said this during his keynote address at the opening of the BETT Asia 2019 Summit in Kuala Lumpur recently.

“While the demand is growing for STEMrelated roles, the supply side is worrying as the number of students taking up STEM subjects had dropped from 48 per cent in 2012 to 44 per cent last year.

“In facing these challenges, the ministry cannot just continue emphasising STEM without putting intervention plans in place,” he said.

The three shifts are to increase the students’ interest in STEM, to expand access to learning STEM subjects, and to evolve STEM to STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Mathematics).

According to a survey by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, Maszlee said nearly 70 per cent of students said they had low interest in STEM subjects because the teaching was too theoretical.

“Hence, one of the initiatives in the STEM4ALL movement will be ensuring that STEM learning is experiential and meaningful for everyone,” he said.

Maszlee said his ministry was focusing on getting teachers on board the paradigm shift by launching a new STEM teacher competency framework, which would shape how future STEM teachers are trained and assessed.

“We also want to expand the access to learning STEM to those in rural communities, low-income families and students with special needs.

“This year, we will be piloting an approach to go directly to rural schools accessible only by boat and dirt roads. We want to bring STEM to them and work with schools to organise experiential activities.

“We are not just looking to put the ‘R’ and ‘A’ into STEM, but STEM into ‘R’ and ‘A’. The introduction of STREAM highlights the relevance and importance of STEM education in all facets of our lives,” he added.

Maszlee launched the STEM4ALL campaign in collaboration with Microsoft Malaysia, an initiative that aimed to bring together parents, educators, students, the private sector and policymakers towards advancing equitable and inclusive STEM education for all Malaysians.

At a round table session, Microsoft Asia-Pacific Education director Don Carlson discussed about creating a culture to deliver 21st century learning.

He said Microsoft was paving the way to transform education in Malaysia by positioning technology at the forefront, and empowering students and educators through innovative programmes.

“I like the idea of what the ministry is doing in regard to STEM. We have to make STEM fun. If you ask a child if he or she wants to be an engineer, he will probably say that’s for boring old people.

“What if, instead, we asked them if they want to solve some of the world’s biggest problems like climate change? Well, that’s the sort of thing that engineers do. They solve problems,” he said.

Carlson said the country was in need of data scientists as stated by Maszlee.

“We are working on the Microsoft Partnership Programme to set up contents, certification, and maybe, a virtual lab.

“With this programme, we are able to work with universities and implement this courses to produce more data scientists,” he said.

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