Archive for the ‘Teaching of Science and Mathematics’ Category

Stopping the decline of STEM enrolment

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017
Hong (middle) and Prof Lee (second from right) posing for a group photo with representativesof the fair’s partners. They are (from left) Norhasrizam Hashim, Koh and Dr Tan.

Hong (middle) and Prof Lee (second from right) posing for a group photo with representativesof the fair’s partners. They are (from left) Norhasrizam Hashim, Koh and Dr Tan.

MILLENNIALS could perhaps be the most fortunate children of all generation so far.

They are born into a technologically advanced era and are blessed with the best their parents can afford — be it education, latest gadgets, well-being, and more.

Some of their parents even take a further step, planning every little detail to ensure their children would secure a good job upon graduation.

The Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair (KLESF) organising committee chairman, Prof Lee Sze Wei, says parents who are concerned about the employability of their children, should encourage them to join the Science stream – known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

He stresses that society, parents in particular, need to break away from the perception that a STEM education is unnecessary if the child doesn’t plan to become a scientist or engineer.

“Students themselves should also learn to conquer their fear towards Mathematics and Science, they are not that difficult with a little bit of practice,” he says.

This is why the KLESF would be an informative platform for people of all age groups to truly understand STEM education and its significance, adds Prof Lee.

Entering its 4th edition this year, the KLESF is set to be bigger and better, with fun, interactive and interesting activities for parents and students to familiarise themselves with the STEM sector. It will be held from Nov 3 to Nov 5 at the MINES International Exhibition & Convention Centre. Admission is free.

The fair was first organised in 2013 by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Asean Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).

Prof Lee says it aims to enhance interest in STEM and emphasises practical and hands-on skills.

“A lot of children cannot learn just by theoretical thinking. They have to see, touch and feel to absorb new knowledge,” he explains, and adds that more than 20 private and public universities will host all kinds of actives for the children at the fair.

Over 50 companies, as well as multiple government agencies, will be exhibitors at this year’s fair.

One of the main activity is the KLESF challenge – a STEM international competition where students (in teams of three) have to exhibit their creations during the fair and be judged.

Other activities include the 13th Malaysia Festival of The Mind 2017 by MMLM, RAC’17 rero Annual Championship by Cytron Technologies Sdn Bhd, 2nd International Junior Chem-E Car Competition by IEM, and Pistek, an annual Science competition organised by the Education Ministry.

KLESF 2017 will have exhibitors from China and Hong Kong for the first time.

KLESF steering committee chairman Datuk Hong Lee Pee describes STEM as a “gateway into many fields”.

He points out that students would be trained to possess analytical capabilities and logical thinking skills – which are absolutely necessary in the workforce in the future – if they pursue a STEM education until Form Five at the very least

“If the percentage of students in STEM continues to decline, Malaysia would have a severe shortage of skilled workers,” he says, citing China and India, as countries that are also concerned about the rapid decrease of STEM students and workforce.

“Teachers and headmasters are more aware of the importance of STEM education, but we need more help from all parties to boost interest in STEM.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/10/22/stopping-the-decline-of-stem-enrolment/#1t0Rwvbp2OF2770t.99

STEM’s teaching challenge

Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Participants in the ExxonMobil-Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia STEM club programme in Kuala Terengganu last week. The programme aims at improving the quality of STEM teaching, and increasing students’ interest and participation. PIC BY ROZAINAH ZAKARIA

YOU may have noticed the term STEM has been making headlines and introduced as the “next big thing”. Most of us know what the acronym stands for, but do we really understand what it means, how it shapes our lives and why it is vital to the future of a country?

STEM refers to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but the term has a broader meaning in education.

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in a session with a group of Terengganu teachers who attended the ExxonMobil-Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) STEM club programme to undergo pedagogical training and build content knowledge in STEM.

With my last formal exposure to science and maths coming from secondary school days, I had many questions on what STEM is from an educational perspective.

Can science and maths alone be STEM? What makes a STEM lesson? Are technology and engineering integrated in science and maths only when appropriate?

The three-day programme for teachers majoring in science, mathematics and technology is one of ExxonMobil programmes leading the charge in STEM initiatives to support the country’s pursuit of a STEM-driven economy.

It is understandable for ExxonMobil, a multinational oil and gas corporation operating in Terengganu, to broaden its STEM support, particularly in this state. This pilot project, in its first phase, aims to develop a group of 64 STEM Master Trainers with the hope that the programme will be self-generating by the third phase.

Educationally, STEM is about creating innovators of the future. The programme’s training modules and content, developed and delivered by UKM, emphasises questioning and discovery rather than rote memorisation.

With the declining appetite for science among Malaysian students, the programme aims at improving the quality of STEM teaching and, subsequently, increasing students’ interest and participation in these subjects.

ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club programme leader Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul said while the science and mathematics curriculum had changed in the last few years, changes in teaching practices had been minimal.

“While our students are good in memorising, they lack application and reasoning skills. They may have good grades, but they are not literate in science because they do not understand the science concept in depth,” said Sattar, who is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Innovation in Teaching and Learning at UKM’s Education Faculty and a UKM STEM research member.

Data analysis by his colleague, Professor Dr Lilia Halim, shows that the cognitive domain of knowing the content in science among students in Malaysia and Japan, within the same age group, is similar.

Japan is one of the top performing countries in TIMSS, a global assessment of maths and science education.

However, there are indications that some of the cognitive domains, such as applying and reasoning skills of our students, which can be developed by STEM lessons, are lower compared with students in Japan. This is the reason why our students did not score high in TIMSS.

So, are our teachers implementing the best practices for teaching STEM in schools? Or, maybe the question should be: Are our teachers prepared to implement STEM education?

At present, it seems that there is inadequate attention to the teaching of STEM in school. As with almost all new initiatives, conceptual challenges are a major roadblock.

Talking to some teachers during the programme, I came to the conclusion that the meaning of STEM education has not been properly clarified to them, yet the term is widely used these days in relation to the need to increase the number of science students.

Our students are so used to a teacher talking at the front of a classroom while taking notes and doing worksheets. There is no practical science activities during lessons.

The limited attention to STEM subjects may also be due to other priorities, such as the number of As achieved in exams.

Traditional testing poses a challenge to STEM integration. The culture of overtesting in the last two decades has led to students facing more pressure than ever to get the right answers during exams.

The results of these exams are also being tied to teacher evaluation systems. Teachers feel pressured to teach to the test, drilling students so that they can regurgitate information accurately.

At the same time, only a handful of these teachers have taken the full complement of STEM courses in life sciences, natural sciences and mathematics as part of their formal education and may need formal training in these fields as part of their professional development.

An effective teaching system needs to be developed before STEM learning can be fully integrated. Research has provided evidence that conceptual teaching has benefits not offered by traditional teaching and students do as well if not better in tests.

A STEM lesson must provide students with the opportunity to explore hands-on real-world scientific problems. The goal is to make clear that science is a process. Students identify a real-world problem, ask questions to explore and solve the problem, and develop solutions and explore a hands-on activity.

An example: When covering renewable and non-renewable energy, students examine which renewable energy type would work best for a fictitious town and why.

Research also shows that students can understand relatively advanced concepts in STEM and enjoy learning experiences that explore such subjects.

By HAZLINA AZIZ.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/10/289761/stems-teaching-challenge

A boost for STEM education

Monday, October 2nd, 2017
Students in the midst of a chemistry experiment in the school laboratory. — File photo

Students in the midst of a chemistry experiment in the school laboratory. — File photo

THE Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) module is an approach taken to help boost interests in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among students in the country.

The IBSE module developed by the International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry is a step in the right direction and it envisions a paradigm shift in the teaching and learning of science.

Prof Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysa and also a fellow of the Academy Sciences of Malaysia (ASM), an agency under the ministry, underscored that the module advocates shifting the role of teachers from instructors to facilitators in raising students’ curiosity, creativity and reasoning by including them in the investigative and discovery process through experimentation.

“The approach is to get learners involved. We need to tap into the curious nature of children, encouraging them to identify problems, find possible explanations or solutions, build hypotheses that need to be tested, design solutions, conduct investigations, validate the hypotheses that have been made, and structure the knowledge to answer the questions that arise, and compare them with proven facts,” Prof Yang Farina added.

She added that there was a method called the La main a la pate or the “hands on” approach founded by the French Academy of Sciences in 1996.

“It is about simple experiments that teachers can conduct in the classroom. This is where they can make an impact on their students because seeing is believing.

Prof Yang Farina says that teachers must conduct experiments in class to get their students interested in Science.

Prof Yang Farina says that teachers must conduct experiments in class to get their students interested in Science.

“Science is not about things that you don’t see, students get interested with what they can see, and when they are interested, they will start asking questions … this is how we get students to be interested,” said Prof Yang Farina.

In its effort to disseminate the knowledge, ASM in partnership with ExxonMobil recently organised a three-day workshop for teachers from all over the country, held concurrently with the National Science Challenge (NSC).

The effort is seen as crucial in fulfilling the country’s aim of 60:40 ratio of Science stream students to non-science students as Malaysia looks towards achieving a STEM-driven economy by the government’s National Transformation 2050 (TN50) initiative.

The academy had in the past conducted IBSE workshops for teachers in Tuaran (Sabah), Setiu, (Terengganu) and Jerlun (Kedah).

It also initiated workshops in Klang Valley schools that brought about positive outcomes in their UPSR Science paper.

Following the success of the workshops, ASM then decided to incorporate the IBSE programme in the 2017 NSC agenda in order to introduce the method to more teachers.

Kolej Yayasan Saad emerged champion of the 2017 National Science Challenge, beating the three other top finalists namely SMK Subang Jaya, SMJK Perempuan Cina Pulau Pinang and Kolej Tunku Kurshiah.

There were 3,930 teams from all over the country that took part in the 28th edition this year. It is seen as one of the nation’s foremost and significant STEM competitions for Form Four Science stream students

“The challenge is closely aligned with ASM’s mission to promote national awareness, understanding and appreciation of the role of science, engineering and technology in human progress,” added Prof Yang Farina, who is also the NSC Steering Committee chairman.

BERNAMA

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/10/01/a-boost-for-stem-education/#B2cA9gFMwOvMXC9c.99

Taking kids on the STEM route

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

A COMMON misperception students have of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), is that they can only pursue careers in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

The Education Ministry and various institutions have been relentlessly rallying against this notion as it aspires to achieve a 60:40 ratio of science to arts students.

One such institution is Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

In collaboration with Persama (Persatuan Sains Matematik Malaysia), the varsity’s Centre of Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science and Mathematics Department of the Science Faculty recently held a maths camp for secondary school students, mostly from rural areas.

Held over two days, the camp saw the participation of over 200 Form Two students from five districts in Selangor.

UPM Centre of Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science director Prof Dr Norihan Md Arifin said the camp was aimed at increasing students’ interest and confidence in mathematics.

“It adopts modules by Persama which emphasises on playing with mathematics.

“This way, participants can see how it closely relates to their everyday life,” added Dr Norihan, who was also the programme’s director.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan, who launched the programme, said the purpose of the camp was to provide more exposure to rural students, as well as sufficient resources to keep them well informed, on par with students from urban schools.

“The ministry realises this need and we have created the 1BestariNet programme.

“Through the virtual learning environment, we can help (students in their academics), but they also need exposure and sharing of knowledge from STEM experts,”he said.

He said, the interest in STEM had to be instilled from a young age, and should be voluntary.

“You cannot force a child to be interested in STEM because when they enjoy it voluntarily, they will take the initiative to be good in the field,” he said, adding the programme was a good platform to instil such interests in the mostly 14-year-olds.

Kamalanathan said while students from rural and urban schools use the same syllabus, it is the lack of access to extra information that students require after schooling hours that keeps rural students at a disadvantage. One such disadvantage is the poor Internet coverage in many rural areas.

“Therefore, when students attend programmes like this, senior lecturers will able to guide them,” he added.

Commenting on the misperceptions students have on STEM, Kamalanathan said it was the responsibility of both the ministry and teachers to inspire and inform students of the many career opportunities in science.

“In fact, there are many fields that are without competent people, he added.

“Because of this, we have to depend on foreign workers. Upgrading workers with the necessary skills, is a requirement that recognises and acknowledges that a country is a “developed nation.”

by SANDHYA MENON
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/08/13/taking-kids-on-the-stem-route/#Dig9UWzFu7u5gquu.99

Malaysian Science teachers get ‘astronaut training’ in Alabama

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: SCIENCE lessons will be more interesting after this at SK ST Mary’s, Kuching.

In June, the school’s science teacher ​Suwiti Abd Ranee attended the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA) Programme for science teachers jointly organised by U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC).

Together with 14 other Science teachers from Malaysia, she completed 45-hours of classroom and laboratory instructions on science and space exploration in Alabama, United States.

The teachers also participated in astronaut-style exercises such as high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, coding challenges, land and water survival training and interactive flight dynamics programmes.

“I thought it was just going to be a closeted programme where everything would be done indoors, but I was thrown off-guard when we were asked to participate in the physical training,” said Suwiti.

“I would say we went through about 15 per cent of an astronaut’s actual training programme,” she added.

To fulfil her passion to teach, Suwiti dived straight into teaching Science after graduating as a software engineer. Currently, she also teaches English at the school. She came to hear about HESA earlier this year and decided to apply immediately

According to Suwiti, the application process itself wasn’t that rigorous, but she did have to write three essays in English about her experiences in teaching science, as well as tell of the challenges she faced in teaching the subject.

Suwiti and 14 other Science teachers who took part in HESA in 2016 and 2017 were given recognition for having successfully completed the HESA programme training in a ceremony yesterday.

Present to give away certificates and their HESA uniforms was Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, science advisor to the Prime Minister and joint chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).

In his speech, he praised efforts by Honeywell ASEAN to inspire Malaysian students to study STEM subjects. “It is good that Honeywell is encouraging teachers to show that science can be fun and critical at the same time. It is indeed rare in Malaysia.”

The teachers from Malaysia joined selected educators from other countries around the globe as well the 52 U.S states and territories. Since its launch in 2004, 2,776 educators from 62 countries, including 25 from Malaysia, have graduated from the HESA programme. Successful applicants are awarded scholarships, round-trip airfare, tuition, meals and accommodation.

Honeywell ASEAN president, Briand Greer said: “As a leading technology and soft company, Honeywell places a great deal of importance on educating our next generation of scientists and engineers.

“We all need to keep the excitement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – STEM – going for the young, because there are real problems to solve. For example, developing truly clean and sustainable energy; cleaning up the environment and solving crippling health issues.

By Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/08/266202/malaysian-science-teachers-get-astronaut-training-alabama

Stepping up on science tie-ups

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
Nancy Shukri (seventh from right) with the recipients of the research grants to 12 winning collaborative projects under the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund. To her right are Vicky Treadell, Asma Ismail and Zakri Abdul Hamid. Pix by SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI

MALAYSIA and the United Kingdom are set to step up collaborations in the areas of science, technology and innovation with the extension of the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund.

Started in 2014, the fund has thus far enabled local researchers to collaborate with research partners in the UK on projects that address specific issues on climate change and sustainability. Announced last week, the extension will see a 50 per cent increase in committed resources and funding from both countries from 2019 to 2021 to promote larger-scale research calls, innovation-focused activities and capacity building activities that support the development agendas of Malaysia.

“Malaysia is one of the most active of the 18 Newton Fund countries, with one of the highest averages in respect of the quality of their applications. Currently, 18 British and Malaysian funding organisations work together to offer funding opportunities for researchers. A total of 28 activities have been established and about

100 funding grants awarded since the fund’s inception in 2014,” said Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Malaysia’s Science Advisor to the Prime Minister.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell said the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund demonstrates the commitment by both countries towards sustainable development, promoting cross-cutting technology and innovative solutions, and building capacity in science and research. “It is a key pillar of our bilateral partnership,” she added.

Both Zakri and Treadell were speaking at the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day which was graced by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is also the Minister in charge of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

In her speech, she said: “Science and technology are the enablers or catalysts for many of our economic development. The Malaysian government is giving emphasis in science and technology to ensure the sustainable development of the country. International collaboration programmes and activities including the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund is a good model to spur strategic partnership in finding solutions of the global issues.”

Zakri Abdul Hamid

The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund has been progressing rapidly. A cohesive range of research and innovation activities have kicked off that include collaborations on health research involving the UK Medical Research Council and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia; continued work on capacity building by British Council and the UK Academies; and a large scale Research and Innovation Bridges programme on sustainable urbanisation, led by InnovateUK, Research Councils UK and MIGHT.

New programmes rolling out this year include collaborations to improve understanding of the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards led by MIGHT and Natural Environment Research Council UK; and programmes for delivering transferable skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), focussing on transformative and high-quality collaborative projects to raise skill levels in Malaysia involving Science and Technology Facilities Council UK and MoHE.

The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day brought Malaysia’s science, technology and innovation community together to celebrate the success of the fund thus far. The event saw the launch of the Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership (WCSSP) — a landmark collaboration between the UK Met Office and National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) Malaysia, Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM), and Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Malaysia. This project aims to harness Malaysian and British scientific expertise to improve forecasts for severe weather in Malaysia and the region, to save lives and protect livelihoods.

At the event, President of Academy of Sciences of Malaysia (ASM), Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail also presented about £4.6 million (RM25.77 million) worth of research grants to twelve winning collaborative projects under the “Bilateral medical and health research in non-communicable diseases (NCDs)” programme. Funded by ASM and Medical Research Council UK, the two-year programme sees Malaysian and British medical researchers working together on research to tackle NCDs prevalent in Malaysia.

By ROZANA SANI .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/08/263388/stepping-science-tie-ups

The art of science diplomacy

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
National Disaster Management Agency director Datuk Abd Rashid Harun (left) exchanging MoU documents with Meteorological Science director Simon Vosper while Vicki Treadell (right) and Minister at the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri looks on.

SCIENCE diplomacy is basically the use of scientific collaboration among nations to address common problems and to build constructive international partnership. It transcends borders, politics, culture and religion where the universality of science is accepted by all.

One such example of science diplomacy is the Newton Fund from United Kingdom comprising matching grants given out to 18 countries around the world to promote the economic development and social welfare of either the partner countries or, through working with the partner country, to address the well-being of communities.

The fund was launched in 2014 and originally consisted of £75 million (RM422 million) each year for five years. In the 2015 UK Spending Review it was agreed to extend and expand the fund. The Newton Fund was extended from 2019 to 2021 and expanded by doubling the £75 million investment to £150 million (RM843 million) by 2021, leading to a £735 million (RM4.13 billion) in UK investment to 2021, with partner countries providing matched resources within the Fund.

Malaysia is one of the most active of the 18 Newton Fund countries, with one of the highest averages in respect of the quality of their applications. Via the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund, 18 British and Malaysian funding organisations are working together to offer funding opportunities for researchers. A total of 28 activities have been established and about 100 funding grants awarded since the fund’s inception in 2014.

New programmes rolling out this year include collaborations to improve understanding of the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards led by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MoHE) and Natural Environment Research Council UK; and programmes for delivering transferable skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), focusing on transformative and high-quality collaborative projects to raise skill levels in Malaysia involving Science and Technology Facilities Council UK and MoHE.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell said UK’s motivation is not just about “how it helps our country, actually it is about our sense of global responsibility as a global citizen, a global nation.

“It is not just the government-to-government political relationship, it is about the broad spectrum of our relationship. So how do we connect with a country on science and everything that flows from that: healthcare, education, knowledge, skills, on defence engagement. We collaborate here with Wisma Putra, on a big global general issue on what we do at United Nations together. That way, it is not about what we can sell to Malaysia, or what Malaysia can invest to UK,” she said.

“Nowadays, disease does not recognise borders, extreme climate condition does not recognise borders, these are things that have a global effect. So by working together and finding solutions, it is not just for Malaysia or Britain, it is actually solutions that can help other countries, too. Cancer research, for example, is not specific to a given race or geography; there might be some cancers that are more prevalent in some regions. But they still manifest themselves in a range of countries around the world,” Treadell continued.

Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Malaysia’s Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, said the country is seeking a role in science diplomacy.

“Many of the challenges we face today are international — whether it’s tackling climate change, or fighting disease, poverty reduction or tackling food security. That’s why it is important that we create a new role for science in international policy making and diplomacy to plays science at the heart of the programme on the international agenda,” he said.

Treadell and Zakri were participating in a panel discussion entitled “Energising International Collaborations in Science, Technology and Innovation” chaired by Academy of Sciences Malaysia president Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail.

Earlier on, the Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership (WCSSP) was launched — a landmark collaboration between the UK Met Office and National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) Malaysia, Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM), and Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Malaysia.

This project aims to harness Malaysian and British scientific expertise to improve forecasts for severe weather in Malaysia and the region, to save lives and protect livelihoods.

Professor Simon Vosper of the UK Met office said the impact severe weather has in the Southeast Asia region in particular is really important.

“The weather phenomenon — severe thunderstorm, flash flooding, wind damage, landslides and storms — these occur broadly across Asia and this is why working with Malaysia is extremely important to us. Looking at Southeast Asia as a whole is a way to tackle this problem – to find the kind of advices needed, to inform on economic policy — via the understanding of severe weather and how it works.

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/08/265653/art-science-diplomacy

Tackling Lack Of Interest In Stem Subjects

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

News Pic

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — It is estimated that Malaysia has to produce at least 5,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates annually to realise the 2050 aspiration (TN50), where Malaysia will emerge as among the top 20 countries of the world in economic, social development and innovation spheres.

However, there are some who doubt that country will be able to produce sufficient number of STEM graduates due to a number of reasons.

Firstly, interest for STEM subjects among school students is on the decline and this has affected the university enrolment in these fields, particularly in the pure science field. This had been pointed out to the media by National STEM Movement chairman Professor Datuk Dr Noraini Idris.

Noraini said this during the launching of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s N9 STEM@Nilai, and Cluster Schools and Adopted Schools Carnival in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan recently.

Moreover, current employment patterns do not indicate a strong demand for STEM graduates as indicated by the Graduates Tracer Study conducted by the Higher Education Ministry in 2015.

The study indicated 27.7 per cent of the Science graduates being unemployed compared with 26.7 per cent of Arts and Social Science graduates.

CREATE JOBS FOR THE STEM GRADUATES

Professor Emerita Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman, the country’s first astrophysicist and the one who helped lay the groundwork for astronomy and space studies in the country, thus urges the government to create an ecosystem that will support the STEM’s graduates.

“The government must be consistent about this. If you encourage people to do STEM, but you don’t encourage the development of the industry that provides them jobs then it would be pointless,” she said during the Powering the Future discussion by Exxon Mobile recently.

In order to achieve this, Mazlan suggests the government upgrades more SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to a level that they can create jobs to the graduates, as well as to develop more scientific institutions.

The Director of MegaScience 3.0 project also points out that more parents will encourage their children to take up STEM if they could see a clear career path for their children.

STEM STUDENTS MUST MASTER OTHER SKILLS

However, it is also important for STEM students to enhance their potential by mastering other skills, including soft skills to get them better prepared for the future.

The future, according to Mazlan, will see several trends that is already emerging in small scale today.

It is predicted there will no longer be more long working hours, instead it will be normal for a person to have three to five jobs at the same time.

“For instance in the Scandinavian countries they are already experimenting with 30 hours work per week with no decrease in salary or productivity.

“And if you are going to have several jobs, it is good to have variety of skills or fields mastered,” she said.

Another scenario is that in the future they will be a group of people who will be classified as the ‘useless class’.

“These are people who cannot re-skill themselves. They cannot learn new skills. For goodness sake we hope we will never be in this class because the next thing that is surely to come is the artificial intelligence (AI),” said the former National Planetarium’s director.

AI will replace human in many occupations including doctors, scientists, movie directors and teachers.

TEACHER; THE KEY TO BOOST INTEREST IN SCIENCE

Professor Yang Farina Abdul Aziz of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) believes that teachers play a crucial role in boosting the interest in science among students.

Yang Farina, who is leading the National Science Challenge (NSC) Steering Committee, has seen how teachers from non high performance schools coached and motivated their students in the NSC until they reached the top five.

By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1380238

Human Benefits: Science and technology in Islam

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Standfirst: Islam is supportive of scientific research that brings benefit to humankind, but knowledge of science and technology that is harmful is discouraged. QUESTIONS have been asked on how Islam relates to science and technology. We respond to this from the perspective of maqasid, which refers to the higher purpose of syariah, and the benefits it seeks to realise for the people.

Many have argued that the whole of syariah is meant to promote human benefits, which are, however, beyond enumeration and too many to count.

Muslim scholars have, therefore, identified certain types of maqasid and classified them from different perspectives.

Some of the maqasid, especially in the daruriyyat (essential purposes) category, are taken from a general reading of the Quran and Sunnah, and are, therefore, textually based.

There are five essential maqasid of syariah — protection of life, faith, intellect, property and lineage — and a sixth is added according to a variant reading. A minority opinion adds protection of honour to the list.

Daruriyyat is only one of several other classifications of the maqasid, which need not be elaborated here, but only to say that all classes of maqasid are not scripturally grounded — some are also based on interpretation and ijtihad (the effort put in an activity). Yet, it is believed that all of the rulings (ahkam) of syariah have their purposes, some of which have been identified in the text and the rest may be discovered through investigation and ijtihad.

Islam is supportive of scientific research that brings benefit to humankind, but knowledge of science and technology that is predominantly harmful is discouraged. The Islamic view of technology and science is, thus, geared towards the purposes they advance.

If science and technology can be used to facilitate better methods of truth discovery while involving no violation of the Islamic principles, there is no question over their acceptance.

For instance, if new methods of fact finding, such as DNA analysis, can resolve confusion over paternity or identification of war dead, and those who die in a plane crash, this will serve in a better way the syariah objective of the preservation of lineage (nasab), and ties of love and compassion (sillat al-rahim) in the family, who may need to know the facts of death of their loved ones.

Similarly, if technology can determine the precise time and location for prayer and fasting in unknown places and outer space, this will be in line with the protection of religion, which is also one of the daruriyyat.

Then again, if science can help find a better cure for lethal diseases, this will help to protect life, which is also one of the essential purposes of syariah.

Yet, if scientific research is pursued only to produce weapons of mass destruction for hegemonic purposes, which also exacerbates hostility and conflict among people, this would violate Islamic principles with respect to preservation of life, and the building of a safe and peaceful order on earth. It cannot, therefore, be supported in the name of Islam or syariah.

The harm to people would be even greater if a country with meagre resources allocate vastly disproportionate amounts of their national wealth to belligerent purposes, when peaceful approaches and policies would offer preferable options.

Genetic engineering applications that are used to fundamentally alter human nature and constitution is broadly considered a violation and prohibited.

Human cloning is one such interference. Whereas the normal child has 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father, a cloned child has twenty-three pairs of chromosomes from just one person.

The Quran, on numerous occasions, refers to the natural way of human creation from male and female, and entitles the child to the care of a mother and father. Human cloning is, thus, a violation of normal family life, which is one of the essential maqasid.

In a similar vein, propagation of misleading and heretical doctrines, and those that entail terrorism and loss of innocent life in the name of religion or jihad, violate the maqasid both of religion and life.

Scientific evidence show that the harmful effects of industrial pollution have reached alarmingly dangerous levels that threaten dire consequences for humans and other life forms on planet earth.

By MOHAMMAD HASHIM KAMALI

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/08/263970/human-benefits-science-and-technology-islam

Stepping up on science tie-ups

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
Nancy Shukri (seventh from right) with the recipients of the research grants to 12 winning collaborative projects under the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund. To her right are Vicky Treadell, Asma Ismail and Zakri Abdul Hamid. Pix by SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI
By ROZANA SANI - August 2, 2017 @ 6:01pm

MALAYSIA and the United Kingdom are set to step up collaborations in the areas of science, technology and innovation with the extension of the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund.

Started in 2014, the fund has thus far enabled local researchers to collaborate with research partners in the UK on projects that address specific issues on climate change and sustainability. Announced last week, the extension will see a 50 per cent increase in committed resources and funding from both countries from 2019 to 2021 to promote larger-scale research calls, innovation-focused activities and capacity building activities that support the development agendas of Malaysia.

“Malaysia is one of the most active of the 18 Newton Fund countries, with one of the highest averages in respect of the quality of their applications. Currently, 18 British and Malaysian funding organisations work together to offer funding opportunities for researchers. A total of 28 activities have been established and about

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/08/263388/stepping-science-tie-ups