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

STEM push for teachers

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

(From left) Ahmad Nizam, Maszlee and Lita launching the teacher ambassador programme.

FROM next year, 4,500 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers will undergo a development programme to sharpen and upgrade their skills.

Upon completion of the recently launched teacher ambassador programme, participants will go on to inspire their fellow colleagues with Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Starting January, the first cohort of 150 teachers will undergo two years of training to enhance their HOTS.

STEM Hubs, to be used to produce high impact plans based on the latest learning and teaching techniques, will also be set up at state education technology departments and centres nationwide.

The programme, organised in collaboration with Yayasan Petronas, was launched by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik on Dec 13 in Kuala Lumpur.

Created to develop “educreators among educators”, the programme, said Petronas and Yayasan Petronas chairman Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh, entails continuous upgrading of teacher skills coupled with access to resources inline with Industry 4.0.

Yayasan Petronas chief executive officer Lita Osman said the foundation’s aim was to provide more opportunities for underprivileged students to get an education, especially in STEM, so that they can realise their potential and dreams.

And teachers, she said, must be given full support as they bear the responsibility of creating interest and perseverance among students, particularly in STEM.

She said teachers themselves played an important role in creating the programme’s content and in coming up with a comprehensive teaching plan.

Comprising three focus areas, the programme provides training and guidance, content and infrastructure for STEM teachers.

Participants will gain knowledge, skills and the right mindset to be effective, learn how to create impactful quality content, and gain access to STEM resources, she said.

“Teachers who are part of the programme will join a professional learning community to become examples to their colleagues.

“This programme will strengthen skills to enhance STEM delivery especially in schools with majority students from low income (B40) families.”

In his speech, Maszlee said a strong grasp of STEM was necessary to meet future challenges as jobs that have yet to exist will be related to these areas.

This, he said, posed a challenge for teachers as they would have to prepare the new generation to be STEM-ready.

Designed to help provide equal access to quality education nationwide, and to narrow the gap between rural and urban students, the programme also acknowledges the importance of the teaching profession.

“Time is not on our side. To

be future-proof, STEM literacy which includes having the right mindset, strategy and skills, are necessary.

“STEM education, which is also a way of understanding life, is important if we are to produce students who can think critically, create using technology and solve problems fast.”

He said the ministry’s move to allow Form Four students to choose subject package options instead of being forced into

science and arts streams from next year, was to encourage students to get into STEM careers later on.

Before this, students from arts, commerce or religious streams, would only do the subjects in their respective streams and this would determine their choices at tertiary level, he said.

“By introducing flexibility through the package options, students can do science, technical and skill subjects that will allow them to get into STEM-related courses at tertiary level, even if they aren’t from a pure science background,” he said.

Calling on all Malaysians to help improve the country’s education system, he said it was especially important for the industry and private sector to be involved.

“Education is everyone’s responsibility.

“We hope more corporations like Petronas will come forward to work with us.”

Industry players bring STEM beyond the classroom

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Creative Mind’s TM Nano Maker Kit programme exposes school teachers and students to data logging.
By Rayyan Rafidi - December 18, 2019 @ 11:21am

AS an emerging technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), data logging involves collecting information to analyse specific trends in a system or network.

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), under its corporate social responsibility initiative, recently collaborated with Creative Minds — a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education provider ― to champion the TM Nano Maker Kit programme.

Serving as a unique approach to learning STEM, the programme introduced students and teachers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to data-logging using a palm-sized data logger — an electronic device that detects changes in a natural phenomena with a higher speed and accuracy compared with analog methods.

Creative Minds operations manager Syed Abdul Hadi Syed Abdul Rahman said the wireless technology allowed students to undertake more challenging outdoor experiments.

“With the data logger, students can conduct experiments and collect relevant data, such as velocity, magnetic influx, as well as changes in temperature, air pressure and the air pollutant index (API).

“This programme enables students to maximise the use of technology in mathematics and science through data analysis, a methodology rarely introduced in STEM compared with domains such as robotics and programming.”

“We help schools by supplying them with the latest technology enablers and platforms to develop students with 21st century competency.”

With the concept of “The world is your classroom”, students get to explore the natural phenomena without being restricted to the classroom.

“There are a lot of limitations in the classroom to study natural phenomena. This is due to technological barriers, which inhibit scientific investigations.

“This programme aims to lift the barrier by using the mobile and easy-to-use data loggers such as PocketLab. Students and teachers don’t have to worry too much about the equipment and can focus more on learning and proving scientific concepts,” said Syed Abdul Hadi.

Syed Abdul Hadi Syed Abdul Rahman.

Students’ interest in STEM could be nurtured by encouraging exploration, he added.

“Compared with lab experiments, students are more familiar with the natural phenomena. They have grown accustomed to these without realising the scientific concepts behind them.

“By giving them the tools to investigate phenomena easily, students will have more opportunities in learning STEM. This will boost their interest to explore the field. Ultimately, we don’t want students who only understand textbook contents, but we want to produce future scientists who understand the world.”

True to the concept, the recent haze had provided an opportunity for students to conduct scientific investigations.

SMK Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh students recorded air pollution index (API) readings by conducting a data logging experiment in their school.

Student Nik Nur Ayuni Nik Rosni said: “The device was easy to use as I was able to relate the experiment to mathematics and physics, such as graphs, scientific formulae and data analysis. The scientific concepts become clearer when we learn about data analysis.

“If we communicate with the local authorities, we can document the results under a research initiative and disseminate the readings to local residents,” she said.

Students also developed an awareness of global challenges through the programme.

Suraya Mohammad Shariman said she used scientific knowledge to investigate real-world problems.

A Creative Minds representative (right) showing a SMK Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh’s teacher and her students how to use the data logger to obtain an air pollutant index reading.

“It was an eye-opening experience because the activity allowed us to relate to our school lessons effectively.

“For instance, we tabulated the data and generated a graph. From the graph, we were able to identify the API range in Sungai Buloh.

“There were many uncertainties due to factors like wind direction, test location and hand movements that may affect data collection. So, we had to use our knowledge in math to find the median.”

SMK Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh teacher and adviser Siti Hadijah Supian said: “My students have become better learners because they can apply what they learnt in mathematics and physics in a more practical way.

“Moreover, exposing students to technology-based learning, in line with IR 4.0, will prepare them to face a challenging future.”

Syed Abdul Hadi said: “To address recent pollution cases, which contribute to climate change, we need to educate the younger generation dynamically. With the right education and exposure, they will be prepared as future leaders.”

The TM Nano Maker Kit programme was supported by Multimedia University (MMU) in Cyberjaya and the Education Ministry.

“MMU provided us with the expertise of its faculty members. Hence, the programme gained better industrial exposure in line with a revolutionised education system,” added Syed Abdul Hadi.

By Rayyan Rafidi

Read more @

Streamless education offers level playing field

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Streamless education is a self-directed approach to multidisciplinary thinking that encourages cross-curricular learning processes regardless of physical setting. PIC BY ROSELA ISMAIL

On reading in the media about the implementation of the streamless delivery last week, a number of scenarios emerged that could be problematic. Here are two.


Urban euphoria. It is named such because urban schools have the most to gain from the new streamless approach to education announced recently.

Why not? Given their strategic locations by and large, urban pupils are within reach of many of the new subjects ‎offered under the different packages.

Chances are many schools are relatively better equipped and resourced to meet the students’ expectations and demands. Even assuming that the schools are not able to meet the demands, there will always be other alternatives to lean on outside the school.

Allegedly, this is allowable as schools are given a degree of autonomy, taking into account the facilities and capabilities available.

For example, to enrol for the package on catering and hospitality, or sustainability for that matter, students can, in principle, transfer to another school that has what it takes to deliver the appropriate learning outcomes.

Otherwise, it could be a private setting to acquire the same. While the former seems acceptable being from the same ministry (read: in sync with each other), this cannot be said for the latter.

The obvious snag is that the private outlets are different and thus need to be certified or accredited before they can be recognised to offer any of the desired packages as stipulated by the ministry. This indeed is the rule of thumb in dealing with such situations nationally and internationally, in educational terms.

The question then: has this been adequately addressed to avoid ad hoc (mis)steps given there is less than a month to the new year when the “streamless” education is expected to be formalised?

To start with, there is a condition of a minimum of 15 students before a class could be convened. Does this apply all round?

Such an undertaking can be a logistical nightmare to get this organised, more so in quick time, sporadically.

Let alone to ensure the authenticity of the academic merits issued by such diverse alleged outlets spread all over the country. Failing which it can only result in a major row because the playing field is not level.


Rural despair. There can be no closer truth to a non-level playing field than the second scenario.

It refers to‎ the state of affairs in several constrained rural areas that are markedly disadvantaged in comparison with their urban counterparts. ‎

As it stands, the disparities are well known on most fronts — facilities, human resources, availability and access to adequately prepared private alternatives.

Thus, unlike the first scenario, most likely the demands involving students in rural schools will be more uphill relative to the urban centres.

Indeed todate, even before the streamless idea comes into being, several of the usual packages then are found wanting. Hint: where are most of the reportedly dilapidated schools located? Need we say more.

In other words, the status of rural schools will be placed under greater pressure under the streamless scheme offering a multitude of elective packages.

Some require very specialised resources and capacities that are even harder to come by.

To hit the ground running come the next few weeks, the rural students could be seriously short-changed, where the ecosystem remains as it was and least prepared to cope with the massive changes.

If previously they were already on a non-level playing field, this time it will be worse.

To be sure, the move is unprecedented and cannot be left to trial and error as cautioned by professional bodies and individuals.

Interestingly, universities are lukewarm in their response thus far, despite likely becoming the largest recipient of these newly-minted streamless breed of students.


One way out is to look at the streamless idea as independent of the locale — urban or rural.

Rather, it is centred on students regardless of where they are located.

This is to decouple the exercise from uncertainty of resources and facilities through seamless learning instead.

Meaning, the emphasis is to bridge the different types of learning settings ranging from social to digital learning (like massive open online courses) across locations and experiences.

In itself, it is a self-directed approach to multidisciplinary thinking that encourages cross-curricular learning processes regardless of physical setting, intellectual and academic content and substance.

This will enhance the ability to connect as many dots as possible in the search for sustainable futures.

Students therefore are not only proficient in technological skills but also humanistic ones.

In this way, streamless education is moving away from fragmented learning (read packages) and is less tied down to location and uneven resource allocation, making it a more level playing field.

It implies that students can learn whenever they are curious in a variety of scenarios, switching academically from one to another. This is the ultimate new learning for the future, streamless and seamless.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @

‘New STREAM system a challenge to teachers’

Sunday, December 1st, 2019
Educators are concerned about the difficulties they are likely to face when the Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music (STREAM) education system for upper secondary students kicks off next year.  NSTP/L. MANIMARAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Educators are concerned about the difficulties they are likely to face when the Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music (STREAM) education system for upper secondary students kicks off next year.

STREAM scraps the Arts and Science streaming system and is part of the transition from the Secondary School Integrated Curriculum (KBSM) to the Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM), which is designed to develop students’ professional, higher-order thinking and 21st-century skills, and values to meet industry needs.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) feared that students would choose elective subjects that were beyond their capabilities and that might pose a challenge to teachers.

While supporting the Education Ministry’s effort to implement KSSM, NUTP president Aminuddin Awang said the ministry should address the burden and challenges faced by students and teachers.

“Not all schools have enough teachers in terms of needs based on the options,” he said.

“Many teachers teach subjects that are not based on their course.

“Therefore, there are possibilities that their skills and expertise are not at par with the elective subjects.

“The burden placed on teachers will dampen their interest and enthusiasm to teach.”

Aminuddin Awang

He questioned the viability of allowing students to choose an elective subject at another school if their school lacked the facilities and capabilities.

“This is acceptable in theory. However, it will be difficult to implement, especially in rural areas.

“There are also concerns that the number of Bumiputera students who choose Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects as their electives will be low.”

Aminuddin said this defeated the government’s efforts to produce more Bumiputera STEM professionals.

On the positive side, he said, STREAM would give students the opportunity to choose elective subjects based on their interests and career.

Aminuddin believed with STREAM, students would be motivated to attend school.

He added that the Education Ministry must ensure that teachers were competent and that the number of teachers placed based on the elective options available in the schools were sufficient.

“Teachers should play role in ensuring that Bumiputera students are encouraged to take STEM as their first choice.

“The importance of STEM should be made aware among Bumiputera students to prepare them for careers that require (STEM) professionals.

“At the same time, students should be encouraged not to choose subjects that they think are ‘easy’ if they can potentially excel in STEM.”

On students in rural areas who want to choose elective subjects based on their interests, Aminuddin said it would be difficult for these students, especially if they would have to go to another school to take the subject.

The limited elective possibilities and transportation issues would hinder them from doing so.

Starting next year, Form 4 students will choose from 89 elective subjects, which will potentially determine their career path.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (policies and development) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim had, on Wednesday,
said the introduction of more elective subjects in secondary schools would replace the decades-old Arts and Science stream system.

The elective subjects comprise 36 under the STEM package and 53 under the Arts and Humanities package.

Habibah said KSSM would see students grouped according to the subjects they chose from these packages.

She said the new system was aimed at enabling students to choose subjects that suit their interests.

However, students are advised to make a wise decision in selecting the package that will pave the way for their preferred profession or field in tertiary education.

By Esther LandauAudrey Dermawan.

Read more @

Business as usual in secondary schools

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

Habibah (right) and Mohamed holding up the details of the new subject package options during the media briefing. — AZLINA ABDULLAH/The Star

THERE was much uncertainty when it was announced that Form Four students will no longer be streamed into Arts or Science from next year onwards.

It is done with good intentions but the information on the move was incomplete and as a result, this caused questions to be raised.

These questions included how this plan will be executed, can subjects be chosen on a truly ala carte menu, will students’ subject combinations affect their future career plans, what about teachers and schools?

To clear the air, the Education Ministry gave a briefing and released a detailed explanation on the new subject package system that comes into effect in January 2020.

This made things clearer as there are guidelines on how packages can be chosen and how schools will handle the new system.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (policy and curriculum) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim says the new system will not be totally open but it will be flexible.

Students will be allowed to pick between the package options that are designed to meet tertiary education entry requirements and a student’s preferred career path.

Besides the fixed packages, students can choose an elective subject based on their interests after considering their Form Three Assessment, school-based assessment and psychometric test, under the guidance of their school counsellors, she adds.

She explains that students will have to sit for six core subjects, one compulsory subject which is Physical and Health Education (PJK), and pick up to five elective subjects and mix between them. (see table)

However, these choices are fixed into packages.

Habibah says that there are two main packages – STEM and arts and humanities.

Students will be allowed to then choose their elective subjects based on subject groups such as languages, Islamic Studies, applied science and technology, and arts and humanities.

It is up to the schools, she adds, to provide the subject packages based on available facilities and availability of option teachers.

Students will not be able to run away from Additional Mathematics if they choose to take up any of the pure science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

PJK is a compulsory subject but it will only be tested at the school level.

Students can pick up to two extra subjects from the list of subjects offered for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) with the total subjects they can take being capped at 12.

Bahasa Melayu and History will remain compulsory passes for SPM. These two subjects are part of the six core subjects students must take in upper secondary.

The others being English Language, Science, Mathematics, and Islamic Studies or Moral Education.

There are three options for STEM packages and one Arts and Humanities package option. (see table).

Students who take any two pure science subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) do not need to take the core Science subject.

Students who take the following elective combinations – Al-Quran and As-Sunnah Education and Syariah Islamiah Education, Turath Dirasat Al-Islamiah and Turath Al-Quran Wa Al-Sunnah, or Usul Al-Din and Al-Syariah – are exempted from taking the core Islamic Studies subject.

Students who take Additional Science are not allowed to take any of the pure science subjects. They are encouraged to take Additional Mathematics.

Packages are determined by the school and a student can request to transfer to a different school that offers the subject package that s/he wants.

Habibah says that a student can take the subject privately and still sit for the subject in their SPM if that particular subject is not offered in their school.

What is new

Education Ministry curriculum development division director Dr Mohamed Abu Bakar says there will not be an issue of students being divided into science and arts classes anymore.

They will instead be grouped based on the subject packages they choose in school.

“This is not an entirely new system as the concept of subject packages has been around since SPM was made into an open certification in 2000,” he adds.

“These upper secondary subject packages provide the opportunity for students to identify and select the appropriate subject based on their aptitude, interests and abilities in the context of upper secondary learning in line with the entry requirements set by the matriculation programme, Form Six, higher education institutions and their future career pathways,” says Habibah.

She adds that this change from streams to subject packages is in line with the move from the Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) to the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM) curriculum to develop 21st century skills such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving skills and leadership skills.

Last month, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik says that a “streamless” schools approach will be implemented beginning next year.

He says secondary students would be able to choose what subjects they want to study.

Maszlee elaborated on the pioneering move when he was addressing a meet-and-greet session with the Malaysian community in Frankfurt.

During the event on Oct 14, the minister says he will push for the end of streaming next year after the students got their Form Three Assessment (PT3) results.

The video recording of his speech was widely shared online.

Stakeholders did not take very kindly to this announcement.

In an immediate reply, Maszlee says that what he had mentioned during the visit in Germany was not a policy announcement but an intention to ensure that students were not burdened by streaming in the future.

Earlier in October, his deputy Teo Nie Ching told a vernacular daily that Form Four students will no longer be separated into science and art streams from 2020.

“The schools will arrange these classes based on the subjects chosen by the students,” she reportedly said.

Keeping watch (and faith) on STREAM

Saturday, November 30th, 2019
The new STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music) system will chart the educational path for the new crop of Form 4 students next year. NSTP/EMAIL

WHEN the school holidays started recently, a nephew believed he will be in a class for those who are weak in their studies next year.

His actual response was rather crude, especially describing those who are in the Arts stream as “stragglers” and their only hope to do good in school is excelling in sports.

For those who are near the half-century mark, this brings back memories of how the education system was, at the time, putting a label on “those who are smart and those who are not”.

About a week ago, the government announced that there will be no more Arts or Science stream from next year.

This was preceded by several hints from the government in Parliament since early this year by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Suddenly, those who had prepared themselves to head on to their destined Arts or Science paths are faced with a route with a network of 89 subjects, which they may not be familiar with.

Let us rewind back to the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s, where the majority of the present crop of working Malaysians were in secondary school, struggling with getting the right education that set their career path.

Very few probably got it right. Unless, of course, if they did vocational training, which provided them skills to give them a career head start.

But way back when, vocational training, or trade school as it was called before, was for the “weak ones”.

And there are those who slogged and struggled past the Lower Certificate of Education, which later became Sijil Rendah Pelajaran and Penilaian Menengah Rendah, and Malaysian Certificate of Education, which became Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. And then there’s the dreaded Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia.

Excelling in these exams did not necessarily bring them success in their chosen careers.

Not all found good use to their knowledge on ergs and glaciers as taught in geography.

This new undertaking, to be called STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music), will chart the educational path for the young soon.

Educators will somehow need to work their way in dealing how to teach their students and make them reach their full potential using the new system.

With the new crop of Form 4 students taking their place next year with STREAM, hopefully things will be better and they get to learn things they like or probably use to improve their lives.

Malaysia can probably take a leaf from the Philippines, literally, in their move to introduce a law for students to plant 10 trees before they can graduate from elementary school, high school and college in May this year.

It also helped youth take on a better sense of responsibility and, at the same time, look after the environment, no matter how small a role they play.

On how to approach the younger generation, the nation could probably take a look at the casual yet cautious approach by the new Indonesian Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Anwar Makarim.

The former chief executive officer of ride-hailing company Gojek called on teachers to begin “small changes” in their classrooms and reach out to students.

“Change is a difficult thing and full of discomfort,” he said in his speech ahead of the Teachers Day celebration in Indonesia.

Nadiem went on to say teachers should “engage their students in discussions, rather than telling them to listen; to give students a chance to try and teach in class; to initiate a social programme that could be participated in by students; to help pupils who lack confidence to unlock their talents; and, to offer help to other teachers in need”.

By Roy Goh

Read more @

Pause and rethink S.T.R.E.A.M.

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
With streamless education, there will be an increased tendency towards the convergence of knowledge. NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

THE latest announcement that schools would go “streamless” next year is promising and exciting. It is timely for the reasons that were articulated in a recent column (“Time for Streamless Education”, NST, Oct 28).

To be sure, it is more of delaying “streaming” rather than doing without it altogether. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, virtually or otherwise, to have an education system that is highly compartmentalised and steeply hierarchical does not “click” with the prevailing structure of knowledge that demands “transdisciplinarity” or being seamless, so to speak. After all, knowledge is a unified whole before it is fragmented into bits. In other words, a “reductionist” approach to knowledge seeking or knowledge generation, especially at a very early stage of education, can be counterproductive. Particularly so in understanding the “big” picture and arriving at a comprehensive solution that connects as many dots as possible.

That said, this major change must be done with utmost caution, so that the purpose of going “streamless” is not lost or rendered aimless. Thus rushing it through can be risky when parents and the public are not well engaged and informed.

In the education sector, any change in the unknown can always backfire, leading to tension and unwarranted misunderstanding. It is not just the schools that must be well convinced, more so the stakeholders, before the policy is made public.

The last time we heard there was no policy decision yet on the matter. Now, barely three months since, a “letter/circular” allegedly has been sent to schools to “explain” about the move. Are we to assume that rigorous consultations (read town halls) have been conducted to a satisfactory level?

The reason for raising this is because what is being proposed for STREAM looks flimsy and unconvincing — Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music. Assuming “S” and “T” stays, one wonders why “R” is for Reading? Is education not based universally on the famous 3Rs — wRiting, ‎Reading and aRithmetic? Simply
put, without mustering the 3Rs, formal education cannot proceed smoothly. Or at least poorly grounded as amply demonstrated. So reading is a must. And having “Reading” again in STREAM can only suggest that this “R” is problematic to start with, relative to the other two Rs. Is this the case? Is this evidence-based? If not, why exclude the other two Rs?

“R” could well be Religion, too, following what the 20th century genius scientist Albert Einstein famously admitted: “‎Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. This is very profound, rendering the alternative redundant and myopic.”

Next, what “E” stands for is missing. Why so? If allegedly it is part of “Reading” — then it is a sloppy excuse when “E” can easily stand for “English” or “Ethics” — both are highly contested issues in Malaysia. And need to be addressed most urgently. They are crucial for the development of responsible Science and Technology!

While “A” for “Arts” stands to reason, in the context of creativity, why is “Music” being singled out? Music is no doubt an important art form. After all, arts is often regarded as “less structured” and “open-ended” in the appreciation of beauty and emotion that would naturally include “music” — variously defined. It exhibits universal language across cultural norms and values. More so when Arts is understood to represent “humanities” (including “philosophy”) that are
essential in the deeper understanding of Science and Technology as a body of knowledge.
This is currently missing, making Science and Technology more utilitarian in nature, enhancing its negative aspects instead. Global warming is one of the unintended consequences. Thus Arts, inclusive of music and humanities, is crucial to give the right balance.

“M” in this case, is better represented as Management. This is because it features both arts and science. The latter lends the argument that it is a methodical and organised body of knowledge with a set of guiding principles. The former borders on humanities and social sciences in its expression as shown by the term “managing” to make things real.

Indeed, Science and Technology needs to be appropriately and ethically “managed” as per research and development, for example. Good governance, in this respect, speaks the language of management of knowledge generally, let alone Science and Technology. It goes beyond just “Music”.

The question, therefore, is how does the Education Ministry arrive at what STREAM stands for? What is the academic and intellectual rationale for suggesting the five elements, instead of six? Unless this is made clear and demonstratively superior than other options, being “streamless” may end up being aimless. And an utter waste of opportunity to shape a better education system as originally intended.

In this regard, one can only comfortably endorse the need to go “streamless” ‎ when each of the elements is coherently and consistently presented as a body of knowledge to promote and support the Science and Technology mindset. Otherwise, it could be detrimental to its good intention of embracing STREAM.

In short, before going headlong in its implementation as reported, we need to revisit what exactly STREAM means in enhancing future education, not forgetting the National Education Philosophy. It is time to pause and rethink!

‎The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @

No more arts/science streams for Form Four next year

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching today said the government would replace it with more relevant subjects, including electives. (BERNAMA)

KUALA LUMPUR: The arts and science streams for Form Four will be scrapped next year.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching today said the government would replace it with more relevant subjects, including electives.

She said the arts and science streams would be replaced with STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts, Music) education.

She said a letter on the changes had been sent out to secondary schools nationwide.

“The letter/circular contains advice to schools across the country on how to encourage, evaluate and explain about the new subjects available from next year.

“This (the abolition of arts and science for Form 4 students) needs to be done according to the capabilities, availability, suitability (facilities/infrastructure), as well as considerations of each school,” she said at the Parliament lobby, today.

Streaming is the practice of sorting students into different “study path/direction” based on their intellectual capability and interest.

The streaming segregation at schools was based on the PT3 results. Students go into the Arts stream, choosing subjects like Accounting, Commerce, Economics, and Arts, or the Science stream, opting for subjects such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Additional Mathematics on top of the core subjects taught in schools.

However, earlier this year, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik had proposed that a new educational approach had to be adopted by introducing more practical and career relevant subjects, matching students’ talents.

“We want schools to encourage students to choose a path or stream which they are keen on, so that they will excel in that subject.

“In the letter/circular we also explained on how the school can attract and separate its students accordingly without misleading them,” Teo added.

The study paths that Form Four students can choose include engineering, science, maths, living skills, technical studies and a few other options which are still in development stage.

“Students can also pick up to five elective subjects and mix between the subjects in this new system.”

Meanwhile, touching on the growing number of local students seeking education at international schools, Teo said it was up to the parents to decide.

“The decision to send a children to private or international school lies with a child’s parent.

“However, this does not mean that our national education system is less effective or substandard.

“We constantly learn and improve on our study syllabus to make sure the education taught at government schools are on par with the international standards,” she said.

By Kalbana Perimbanayagam.

Read more @

Being in arts, science stream doesn’t define our future

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
SPM students getting ready for their exam in Seremban. FILE PIC

SIJIL Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examinations start this month.

SPM is seen by many as the key factor in one’s future. The SPM papers are based on either science and arts stream. For some reason, some of us were put into the science stream and others, the arts.

There are students who fight their way into the science stream in the belief that it would bring them pride and respect from others, whereas the arts are seen as for those who were weak in their studies.

This perception is worsened by parents who believe this myth.

I was interested in physics and chemistry, which drove me to become a science student.

Students should see things from a different point of view and rebuke claims saying science is for top students, whereas the arts are for those who lag in their studies. After all, you do not need Biology or Add Maths to be a lawyer.

There are many people from the arts stream who excelled in school and their success has shaped them into wonderful individuals.

Nobody should be defined in such a way in the education system.

In this sense, the proposal by the government to abolish streaming should be well received.

Some parents should drop the mindset that being a straight A student will guarantee a bright future for their child, as other factors come into consideration.

There are many people who did not excel in school but became successful in life.

For example, Datuk Lat, who mentioned that he wasn’t a bright student, but succeeded through storytelling using drawings. He was also an arts student.

Let us wait and see what it is like for the new generation of students to be streamless.

By Gregory Kong.

Read more @

Time for STREAMLESS education

Monday, October 28th, 2019
With streamless education, there will be an increased tendency towards the convergence of knowledge. NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

THE issue of ‘streamless’ education or more exactly its ‘delay’ had reared its ugly head recently.

There has yet to be an official announcement but comments about it abound.

Some are positive, others are more cautious – typical when moving into unfamiliar territory

‎However, the fact remains, this is the future as we go beyond 2020

By then, the shelf-life of knowledge will be no more than 24 hours, according to one study.

One must be able to take advantage of the ‘fleeting’ knowledge before it disappears.

Meaning to say that the approach to learning, and indeed education itself, will demand a new quantum shift.

It is said that learners who can go beyond their areas of interest will benefit the most.

They are better prepared in connecting the dots and will be more informed with the knowledge in hand.

Thus the approach must be transdisciplinary, or at least multidisciplinarity in nature.

Put it another way, it is ‘streamless’ education where knowledge can be better understood in one grasp, especially when looking for a solution to a complex problem.

Climate change is one example where no one discipline or expertise can provide satisfactory, what more comprehensive answers.

As the world gets entangled in multiple chaotic crises, more and more isolated singular disciplines will be deficient in providing ‘real’ solutions.

The contrary is deemed to be more relevant instead.

It means that there will be an increasing tendency towards the convergence or unity of knowledge.

The latter is a term introduced by a renowned sociobiologist, Edward Wilson, through his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998).

He noted that the ongoing fragmentation of knowledge is an artifact of scholarship, notably of sciences and humanities.

It is not the reflection of the real world that skewed education into what it is today, being compartmentalised into rigidly siloed disciplines.

That being the case, we need to reorient things so that knowledge can be better connected and stays relevant.

The more holistic the combination of disciplines is, the more wholesome the knowledge, making its application more widely acceptable.

This is because it allows for what is called ‘lifewide’, which is to learn by linking as many dots as possible.

In a sense, it is the opposite of ‘lifelong’ learning, which concerns more the depth of knowledge.

Graphically, education can be represented as an ‘inverted’ T with the horizontal bar representing ‘lifewide’ learning as the foundation

The ‘lifelong’ dimension of learning is represented by the vertical bar.

Putting the two together in the ‘right’ proportion creates ‘lifeworthy’ learning, as described by the 3Ts; total, transformational and transversal, the overarching outcome of education per se.

During the ISIS Praxis conference in Kuala Lumpur last week, similar issues were also deliberated on.

The general consensus was that education must be carried out in an ongoing, holistic and integrated way.

Not as fragmented components.

This incidentally is what the National Education Philosophy (NEP) of 1996 advocated as spelt out in the Education Act.

It only boggles the mind why this was not duly adopted to the letter like in Japan and Finland.

This must therefore be urgently revisited within the proper NEP framework.

Education in Malaysia is deemed to be ‘distorted’ as suggested by a respected educationist.

He said this was due to the bureaucratic (over)regulation that limited its flexibility‎ and autonomy for so many decades.

Added to this is the absurdity of using the Key Performance Indicators to make siloed evaluations that further isolated the various academic disciplines.

STEM is a good example where it is totally devoid of the ‘humanitarian’ dimensions.

Students are then subjected to ranking exercises to measure the quality of education.

Needless to say such conventional and outdated approaches are in fact barriers to the concept of transdisciplinarity and unity of knowledge.

They form part of the artifacts that must be dealt with.

So the suggestion to ‘delay’ streaming until the ‘right’ moment has its own merits.

To hurriedly impose it may not be as productive as intended.

And it would delay Malaysia’s support of the Sustainable Development Goals that demand the nurturing of the 3Ts mindset.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @