Archive for the ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’ Category

Rural revitalisation via innovation

Thursday, September 17th, 2020
The government must continually invest in enhancing rural infrastructure. PIC BY OMAR AHMADThe government must continually invest in enhancing rural infrastructure. PIC BY OMAR AHMAD

LETTERS: In Malaysia, rural residents make up 21.6 per cent of the population. Although the number is not that high, this population disproportionately faces poverty, malnutrition and low quality of life.

Promoting strategies and investments that support the revitalisation of rural areas is not only beneficial in creating a competitive and sustainable local economy, but also vital to the social viability of the nation.

Rural revitalisation in this age should go beyond agriculture. Create non-farm markets while making technology and innovation the cornerstones of rural economic growth.

Many programmes under the Rural Development Ministry have been initiated to improve the wellbeing of rural communities, such as the support programme for rural entrepreneurship, Program Sokongan Pengukuhan Keusahawanan Luar Bandar, which is a platform that supports entrepreneurs with financial aid and service-related training and products.

While the initiatives seem to be bearing fruit, rural areas are still struggling with the lack of opportunities for rural folk, forcing many to migrate to cities in hope of a better future.

This leads to another issue — urbanisation that could cause other problems, like insufficient space for building new houses, traffic congestion and urban crime. Data shows that in 2017, nearly 75 per cent of the country’s population lived in cities, with more than seven million people living in Kuala Lumpur.

As the growth is projected to continue, the revitalisation of rural areas is much needed to prevent rural people from migrating so that they can explore the potential of rural areas and maximise the rural economy. So what can be done to revitalise rural areas?

First, the government must continually invest in enhancing rural infrastructure by improving the efficiency and availability of clean water, stable Internet, electricity supply, as well as access to small grocery stores that sell healthy and nutritious food at affordable prices.

Improving rural mobility is essential so that rural folk can easily obtain their daily needs, access services like education, health and finance, reach markets, gain income and participate in social, political and community activities.

While investment in transport has been concentrated on upgrading infrastructure, it is essential to note that the government should also focus on enhancing the quality of public transport services. Apart from that, generating other sources of income in rural areas, such as through mining, service industries and e-commerce, is vital in ramping up the rural economy.

With regard to e-commerce, since this sector is blooming amid the Covid-19 pandemic, this is the right time to undertake an extensive effort to assist rural folk in venturing into this industry.

For example, the Perkhidmatan eDagang Setempat (PeDAS) initiative, launched by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry together with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, helps local entrepreneurs market their products online.

Practical strategies to rejuvenate this programme should be planned well to further expand its functionality in helping rural populations, particularly women, youth and indigenous people, to hone their skills in e-commerce.

The government may need to inject money into this programme, so necessary action could be taken, like expanding the number of one-stop centres, known as Pusat Internet Desa or Village Internet Centre, so that more people can get equal chance in grabbing this opportunity.

by Afifah Suhaimi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/09/625078/rural-revitalisation-innovation

RM19.1 mln for Sabah projects under MOSTI

Friday, September 11th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: A total of RM19.1 million has been channelled to fund various projects for Sabah under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

MOSTI Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said between 2016 and 2020, through the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), various projects have been implemented under the Research, Pre-Commercialisation and Venture Capital Fund.

Among the projects implemented were through a close cooperation with local academic research teams at Universiti Malaysia Sabah or better known as UMS and other research development bodies.

“Recently, UMS is developing an International Collaboration Fund (ICF) project with RM230,500 fund from MOSTI to develop Virtual Reality Emotion Detection (VRED).

“The Faculty of Computer and Informatics UMS has been given the responsibility to develop this project, producing an effective immersive computing system through the adoption of electroencephalography (EEG), which is eye tracking and inertia detectors.”

Speaking at a press conference in conjunction with the Kembara Science, Technology, Innovation and Economics (STIE) programme at UMS yesterday, Khairy said the research could be potentially commercialised for health, education and gaming purposes.

“I myself have tried the prototype virtual reality headset that can detect individual emotions, whether they are feeling sad, happy, excited or scared through eye tracking and inertia detector.”

For educational purposes, Khairy said the system is able to see whether students are focused or not towards information taught.

“As for the health purpose … for example, stroke patients where they cannot express emotions but with rehabilitative therapy, we are able to know what their emotions are without having to act verbally,” he said, adding, “I congratulate UMS on its development in this research.”

Apart from that, MOSTI has also channelled RM13.5 million (2016-2020) for Sabah under the Malaysia Social Innovation Fund (MySI).

Khairy hopes to see more funding for the state included in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

He stressed that Sabah has great potential in the research and development industry.

Meanwhile, the STIE Programme highlights MOSTI initiatives such as the National Innovation and Technology Sandbox which provides facilities for product testing, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a real technology development environment.

A briefing on the Social Impact Match (SIM) grant was also held to support local social enterprises.

By VESTA VANESSA JSOL

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/40177

Education Ministry: PPSMI will not be reintroduced

Thursday, July 16th, 2020
Senior Education Minister Dr Radzi Jidin says the Education Ministry has no plan to reintroduce the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), which was abolished in 2011. - NST file picSenior Education Minister Dr Radzi Jidin says the Education Ministry has no plan to reintroduce the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), which was abolished in 2011. – NST file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has no plan to reintroduce the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), its minister, Dr Radzi Jidin, said today.

He was responding to a parliamentary question from William Leong (PKR-Selayang) on the reasons behind the (proposed) reintroduction of PPSMI; and the ministry’s plan to improve previous weaknesses.

“For your (Leong) information, the Education Ministry has no intention of reintroducing the PPSMI policy,” he said briefly in a written reply.

PPSMI was first introduced in 2003 during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as Prime Minister, but was abolished in 2011.

When Dr Mahathir was appointed as the seventh premier, he said a Cabinet committee had been formed to study the reintroduction of PPSMI, but he said a decision would be made based on the majority opinion of his then Cabinet.

On another matter, Radzi said the ministry is currently fine-tuning the teaching of Jawi script in vernacular schools.

“The ministry will again fine-tune the matter related to Jawi script (lessons) holistically,” he said in a parliamentary written reply to Steven Sim (DAP-Bukit Mertajam).

At the moment, Radzi said the government plans on continuing the previous administration’s decision on Aug 14, 2019, to reduce the Jawi script syllabus for Standard 4 pupils to three pages instead of the initial six.

The previous Cabinet had also decided that the lessons would be made optional and only taught if approved by parent-teacher associations, parents, and pupils.

The government initially planned to introduce six pages of Jawi calligraphy lessons in the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbooks beginning 2020, but this was met with criticism from Chinese and Tamil education groups.

By Arfa Yunus.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/609075/education-ministry-ppsmi-will-not-be-reintroduced

Students win 3 categories in International STEM competition

Monday, July 6th, 2020
Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1. Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1.

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1.

The competition, 2020 BIEA International STEM Competition, which oversees around 2,000 participations from 50 countries, required its participants to create 3D machine-prototype to tackle the global plastic waste problems, starting from the sea-shores.

Speaking to the winners via Zoom-meeting recently, the happy students said they had worked days until nights on their prototypes.

The winner of the Best Report Awards, Alif Luqman Nasution, 16, said his invention aimed to collect at least 10 per cent of the plastic waste around the globe.

“10 per cent may seem like a small number, but on a global scale, 10 per cent is huge.

“My invention is theoretically small and I want it to be affordable to the public. Its height is about six inches and 12 inches long, which can collect two types of plastic waste, and it can move on land, mud and in water,” he said.

“When the results came in, I was over the moon. We have put everything into this competition. This win shows that we are doing our part, at least in contributing ideas to solve the global plastic waste issues,” he said.

Kow Hong Hiat, 16, alongside his teammates, Eeshwar Uthaya Kumar and Puteri Nur Atiqah Omar, who clinched the Best Video Award said it was a meaningful win for everybody.

“As we work on our project, we’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge, especially on plastic waste and its harmful effects on human, marine life, animals and the environment.

“Our submitted prototype is an invention of a vehicle that can pick up plastic waste on land, mud and water, inspired by an ocean clean-up vehicle, Interceptor 002 but ours has robotic arms, infra-sensors, webcam, solar panels and rock wheels.




“The infra-sensors and webcam on the vehicle are used to detect the location and distance of plastic waste from the vehicle on land and mud. It will then help the vehicle to best position itself for its robotic arms to act as manipulator and picks up the waste,” he said.

The winners of Rising Star Awards, Ezrin Marissa Ramlan, 16, and her teammates Ejjaz Hakimi and Ryan Khoo said the dedication they’ve put into the competition has been part of a fun journey together.

Ejjaz said he felt relieved to see that all their hard work had paid off.

“We spent a lot of hours working on this project and to see it has paid off is really satisfying”.

For Ezrin Marissa said her team’s invention aimed to pick up plastic waste of any size.

“We want to ensure the machine can clean up all the plastic waste that lies on the shores. So, we put together many different components with individual functions.

“Some components, such as the vacuum, has additional filter to suck up plastics (buried) in the sand. And the filters are to ensure no other things will clog up the vaccuum.

“And we also put together a shovel that will handle larger pieces of plastic which the vacuum cannot pick up. All of these (different functions) will operate using the energy generated from the solar panel,” she said.

Teacher Lee Saw Im said she had resorted to problem-based learning in her Chemistry classes, as a way to raise awareness while teaching her students about plastic waste issues.

“Teachers play a very important roles in their students’ lives. We need to create opportunity and motivate them at all times.

“When I introduced the topic and told them about this competition, these students happily volunteered to participate. And I’ve also asked my former student, Ong Cheng Zhou to guide them through.

“When our country underwent the Movement Control Order (MCO), I was worried and I thought that we should pull out.

“However, some time in March, we received emails from the organiser, saying that they’ve decided to continue the competition vi

rtually. And when the results

came in, I screamed my lungs out! The coach and I were very proud of them,” she said.

Lee, who won the 2019 Global Teacher Award and Best Science Teacher at Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Awards strongly believed such teaching method were important for the coming generation of students.

“It will give students the opportunity to explore their creativity, enhance their communication and problem-solving skills and also learning how to work effectively in collaboration.

“Through this approach, it can prepare our students to adapt to the Industrial Revolution 4.0,” she said.

By Farah Solhi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/606401/students-win-3-categories-international-stem-competition

Renewed push for STEM

Monday, June 1st, 2020

THE Education Ministry is working to address the decline of interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among students.

Youths, said its minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin, would otherwise lose out on the global stage, which is heavily based on scientific and technological advancement.

The ministry, he said, is aware of the rapid decline of interest year-on-year and is trying to address the issue.

“Education is a timeline, starting from primary, secondary to tertiary education.

“If the interest in STEM is not inculcated at an early age, starting from Year One or earlier, students’ choices will be affected when they choose their major, ” he said during a live television interview on May 11.In 2018,44% of students opted for the Science stream at secondary level, compared with 48% in 2012. At tertiary level, 570,858 (63%) of students majored in Arts and Humanities, Education, Social Sciences, Business and Law in 2017, compared with 334,742 (37%) who enrolled in Science, Math, Computers, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction courses, StarEdu reported in February.

To promote STEM and instil a culture of innovation among students, RM11mil was allocated in Budget 2020 to implement joint initiatives by the Education and Science, Technology and Innovation (formerly the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry) Ministries, as outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

Red more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/05/31/renewed-push-for-stem#cxrecs_s

Early exposure to STEM degrees

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
Azhar Hazim Mohd Ubaidullah (left) testing a light bulb holder during a session on circuit testing at the 21st Century Electronics Bootcamp 2020 held at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

EXPOSURE to potential careers and university courses can help students decide on their field of interest and ease the transition into tertiary education.

The recent 21st Century Electronics Bootcamp 2020 held at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) served as a platform for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) leavers to gain key skills and knowledge that can prepare them for an engineering or a STEM degree.

Fourteen students from across the nation gained hands-on experience and technological know-how such as learning to use Arduino, a platform for building electronics projects.

BANGI 10 FEBRUARI 2020. Nur Ain Zulaikha Zamri (right) and her team member Raja Haikal Raja Arifshah presenting their smart house prototype to PKAS director Dr Kalaivani Chellappan (fifth from right) and UKM Engineering, Built Environment Faculty Undergraduates deputy dean Professor Ir Dr Siti Rozaimah (sixth from right) and visitors at the 21st Century Electronics Bootcamp 2020. NSTP/INTAN NUR ELLIANA ZAKARIA

Working in teams to tackle life problems using engineering principles, their ideas were translated into prototypes by the end of the programme.

Nur Ain Zulaikha Zamri, 18, who formerly studied at MRSM Bentong, said: “The most priceless experience that I had was learning about the Internet of things (IoT) and the Arduino software which expanded my design-thinking skills.

“I learnt about this software at school but it was just at surface level. The bootcamp taught me to code properly and how to design and assemble printed circuit boards (PCB) using applications like TraxMaker and CircuitMaker.”

For her group project, Nur Ain took part in creating a smart house prototype with smart lighting by applying the IoT principles.

“We equipped the prototype with a light-dependent resistance (LDR) sensor which was programmed to light up the house. Carrying out this project was eyeopening and it developed my interest in the electrical engineering field.”

In its second year, the month-long programme was spearheaded by the UKM Engineering and Built Environment Faculty’s Graduates Academic Competency Empowerment Programme (PKAS).

Participants were also able to tour research laboratories, architectural studios and other university facilities.

Nur Ain said she felt lucky to get a taste of student life at a top university.

“I gained university experience through our group projects and weekly presentations. I realised the value of STEM knowledge and how it can contribute to my personal development and nation building.”

BANGI 13 FEBRUARI 2020. Muhammad Imran Safwan Jeffiry. NSTP/INTAN NUR ELLIANA ZAKARIA

Coming from a day school, Muhammad Imran Safwan Jeffiry, 18, said the programme opened up a new world of possibilities.

“I was exposed to various engineering disciplines such as chemical engineering. I also learnt how to code using Arduino.

“This bootcamp has helped me realise my interest in architecture and civil engineering,” said the SMK Malim, Melaka alumnus.

Azhar Hazim Mohd Ubaidullah, 18, who previously studied at MRSM Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan said the programme taught him about perseverance and the different engineering specialisations.

“For our project, I struggled initially to get the desired output. But I learnt to troubleshoot and find different ways to solve the problem.

“We visited each engineering department and were exposed to their syllabuscontents briefly. For example, in the civil engineering department, we saw how they process the materials to build structures,” he said.

Muhammad Imran added: “At the chemical engineering department, we learnt about the properties of organic compounds and how they are turned into products.”

On the same team, the two students came up with an Arduino-based passwordprotected door lock prototype.

Azhar Hazim said: “Users can lock and unlock their house doors remotely just by using a mobile application. A password is sent to the lock using the app. If the door is not closed properly, an LED light and alarm will go off.”

Who came up with the idea for the prototype?

“It was a team effort,” said Muhammad Imran.

“After designing the circuit, we conducted the PCB etching by immersing the board into an acid bath. Only the required copper traces were left behind. Then we connected the PCB and the lock system to the internet,” he said.

Azhar Hazim, who aspires to be a software engineer, added: “We also learnt to market our products using analytics and were able to put our knowledge into practice.”

The experience gained at the bootcamp has guided their decision on academic matters.

Alif Amaluddin, 19, Universiti Teknologi Mara mechanical engineering diploma student and 2019 bootcamp alumnus, said the programme helped him immensely.

“It exposed me to the engineering field. I could apply the coding skills that I learnt from the bootcamp in my studies.

“For example, in my Artificial Intelligence coursework, I am required to code to effectively train processors for deep learning,” said Alif.

Currently pursuing aBuilding Services Engineering diploma at Politeknik Shah Alam, Nor Elyas Norazmi, 19, said the intensive electronics curriculum allowed him to get a headstart in his studies.

“At last year’s bootcamp, I built a prototype where I used a PCB as a smoke detector. My current diploma programme includes a topic on fire detection systems. The invaluable knowledge that I gained from the bootcamp helped me to understand the topic easier.

“This bootcamp also introduces students to future study and career prospects,” said Nor Elyas.

Meanwhile, fellow alumnus and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia student Muhammad Arif Najmi Abdul Rahim, 19, decided to pursue actuarial science. However, he valued the network and guidance he gained from the bootcamp greatly.

“I was interested in physics and math and I was introduced to financial engineering, an engineering field that’s similar to actuarial science.

“I hope more students can join thisbootcamp. The knowledge can be shared on a larger scale,” he said.

PKAS director Dr Kalaivani Chellappan said 60 per cent of the bootcamp syllabus is based on electronics.

“This programme was developed by integrating aspects of design thinking, which is a pillar of Industry 4.0 and a combination of Google web and analytics applications.

“We use an interdisciplinary approach and experience-based learning pedagogy that will stimulate students’ interest to improve knowledge, skills andvalues.”

For this year, 125 applications were received from across the country, she said.

“While the programme is open to all SPM leavers, we have some criteria in place, namely, family background, academic achievement, financial status and psychometric assessment. Participants are fully funded by PKAS, except for accommodation, for the T20 community.”

Kalaivani added that research universities are the frontrunners in nurturing more knowledgeable citizens.

“I believe research universities need to build the interest and identify potential students in the field of research from the school level. This is important in facing Industry 4.0 or 5.0 challenges.

“Through this platform, we hope to generate more quality human capital, especially in the field of IoT, automation, healthcare, education and industrial security.”

by Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2020/03/572279/early-exposure-stem-degrees

Discover the endless possibilities of STEM the Curve

Monday, March 9th, 2020

AS Malaysia is in need of more experts in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, it is important to introduce exciting programmes to children from an early age to cultivate a strong passion and interest in the subjects.

With the school holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time for kids to immerse themselves in an enjoyable and educational STEM experience at the Curve, in Mutiara Damansara, Selangor.

From March 13 to 22, the mall’s centre court will be transformed into a science haven filled with various clusters and activities to invoke fun and enthusiasm among visitors from all walks of life.

The STEM Fest will feature four clusters focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and each exhibit will have various STEM-related showcases and activities, appealing to a wide range of interests.

Curious about forensic science or maybe the key to solving the Rubik’s cube? These will be among the many topics patrons can learn from the various clusters.

To give visitors a multi-sensorial experience, 30 STEM exhibitors will display and share various interactive exhibits ranging from robotics, coding, science demonstrations and even virtual reality.

All visitors can touch, feel and toy around with the displayed exhibitions! If you’re a fan of science experiments, then look no further and witness the Magic of Science – a showcase of science experiments live on stage. Don’t miss the show which will take place every weekend at the centre court.

For those seeking an adventurous thrill, be sure to visit the Aerospace and Drone showcase, where shoppers can try their hand at operating and flying a drone.

Besides that, you can also put your STEM knowledge to the test and participate in the STEM Explorace. Those who are interested may spend a minimum of RM50 in a maximum of two receipts to join the STEM Explorace.

“We believe it is important to expose children to the various fields of study, especially the vast field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, from a young age. Through our STEM Fest, we hope to provide a fun learning experience to children and give them an opportunity to explore, discover and learn more about interesting topics in the STEM field!” said Curve senior general manager Jazmi Kamarudin.

Find out more about the STEM Fest by contacting the Curve’s customer care officers at 03-7710 6868 or visit www.thecurve.com.mywww.facebook.com/theCurveShoppingMall or https://www.instagram.com/thecurve_official/ (thecurve_official).

REad more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/03/08/discover-the-endless-possibilities-of-stem-the-curve

Focus on science for PISA 2024

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

OXFORD University Press (OUP), the world’s largest university press with a distinguished global presence, through its subsidiary, Oxford Fajar in Malaysia, said it has won a competitive tender by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop the Science Framework for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2024.

The OECD’s PISA is widely acknowledged as the benchmark for evaluating education systems across the world, examining students’ knowledge of mathematics, reading and science. It provides a comprehensive international assessment of the skills 15-year-old students need in order to further academic education prior to entering the workforce.

In line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to position Malaysia in the top one-third of countries, the framework developed by OUP will help define the design, development and implementation of the tests and questionnaires used in PISA 2024, determining what is measured and how findings will be reported. This approach will help to establish a clear vision and aspirations for individual students.

The main objectives of this work include:

* Focusing on how Science is applied in a real-life context and within levels of Scientific literacy;

* Ensuring the framework is relevant and reflects the current state of academic research in Science and Science Education; and

* Making links between the content from previous cycles of PISA and the understanding of Science that young people will need in the future.

PISA is conducted every three years using representative national sampling from over 80 participating countries.

PISA 2018 saw 600,000 students across 79 countries and economies take part, representing 32 million 15-year old students globally, and similar or greater numbers are expected in 2024.

OUP managing director of education, Fathima Dada, said: “We’re thrilled to have been selected to conduct this work.”

“PISA is considered the global barometer of education, ” she said.

OECD PISA programme head Andreas Schleicher, said OUP is renowned for its understanding of pedagogy, assessment and provision of educational resources in most countries across the globe.

“I am pleased to be working with OUP on an ambitious new and forward-looking PISA science framework, ” he added.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/03/01/focus-on-science-for-pisa-2024

Advice to those resisting the use of English

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

The move to teach Science and Mathematics in English should be lauded and supported by all stakeholders.

As Malaysians who desire world-class knowledge, we cannot deny that technological advancements are built upon the “basic blocks” that are structured in English. The government should not be distracted by naysayers who cast doubts about the move.

Teething problems are inevitable whenever new policies are implemented. To throw in the towel even before attempting it is an inwardlooking way of looking at things. Fear should not be allowed to take control of any decision making process.

We can be nationalistic and patriotic even while we acknowledge the capable qualities of other civilisations.

We need to accept the fact that although all cars run on four wheels, there are some cars that are capable of going up steep slopes faster. The occupants of such cars will reach the summit earlier.

This is just an analogy to reflect upon by those who are resisting the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science. We need to embrace a broader view to help our society reach the global platform faster.

The world is moving rapidly in acquiring artificial intelligence and digital technology.We need to fearlessly embrace the “building blocks” in which they are founded. These building blocks are undoubtedly Science and Mathematics.

We also need to think about creating global employment opportunities in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The time is now. If the Wright brothers had waited for the right conditions by “treading carefully”, they wouldn’t have invented the first flying machines.

by Dr Z Measias John.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/read/3529/advice-to-those-resisting-the-use-of-english/

Adopt education systems that are successful

Monday, February 10th, 2020
I REFER to the articles, “Teachers: No more u-turns on PPSMI and we’re on board” & “We’re not totally against it” (The Star, Feb 4).

Since the Prime Minister announced the reintroduction of the Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English policy (or better known by its Malay acronym, PPSMI), there has been numerous responses from practically all sectors: politicians in particular, educationists, academia, parents and even the man on the street.

My humble suggestion is that we should logically adopt whatever education system that has consistently been proven to be successful, using internationally recognised yardsticks such as the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), which is intended to measure and evaluate educational systems.

We don’t need rocket science to introduce a world class education for our country. Still we can seek the opinions of our local professors and education experts from our country’s universities. Only last year one public university was able to produce around 650 PhD graduates with doctorate degrees – a record number by any standard.

We just need to be realistic to get the best education system for our students. In this respect, Singapore’s education system has been consistently ranked among the best in the world. It has been benchmarked by many countries to successfully produce a society that is united as well as competitive to face whatever global challenges particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, in order to prepare the younger generation for the Industrial Revolution (IR4) and digital world, especially in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Much as we would like to deny it, the fact remains that Singapore’s formula to success in education is largely due to adopting English as the medium of instruction in schools. Truly, it is not only a necessary step but it is also long overdue before our neighbouring countries catch up with us.

Since independence till the mid 1970s, we had embraced English medium schools. The Education Ministry then adopted Bahasa Melayu (BM) as the medium of instruction until today.

The authorities have fortunately allowed the setting up of independent and international schools that use English to teach all subjects except the vernacular languages. Sadly, these schools impose high fees which inevitably cater for the rich and upper middle classes. The rest who cannot afford these fees send their children to national schools, where BM is the medium of instruction.

Thankfully, our Prime Minister through his wisdom and experience has called for the return of PPSMI. We hope the Prime Minister will revive the English-medium schools so that everyone will benefit from it.

Under no circumstances is BM ignored. BM must remain a compulsory pass for any level of exams (UPSR, PT3 and SPM). In fact the grade should be raised to a credit as BM is an unshakable unifying force in our multi-racial and multi-religious nation.

Can English medium schools be set up under the umbrella of the national-type schools?:

Supposing the PM gives the green light, the English schools or national-type English-medium schools will surely be the preferred choice of most parents. I believe even many students from Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools will flock to these English-medium schools.

English schools, moreover, will invariably be our country’s main revenue earner, attracting students from neighbouring countries such as China, Japan and South Korea as well, which is a win-win end-game for all.

by THOMAS KOK.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/02/09/adopt-education-systems-that-are-successful