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

‘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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pusat GENIUS@pintar Negara teams to represent Malaysia in world meets

Sunday, October 20th, 2019
(From left) National GENIUS@pintar College, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia students Nur Afiqah Zulkarnain, Nurin Qistina Azhar, Adam Che Nazahatuhisamudin, Nur Farah Adila Shaiful Haili, Wardina Inani Khairudin and Ariesya Mohamed Al Namiri with their racing car prototypes. NSTP/HAFIZ SOHAIMI

AFTER winning the National Robotic Competition (NRC) in the upper open category at Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium in Kedah recently, Loo Qiao Ning, Harun Azhar and Ahmad Azzam Mohamad from the Robotics team of Pusat GENIUS@pintar Negara, Universiti Kebangsaan Negara are getting ready to face stiffer competition at the prestigious World Robot Olympiad 2019 in Gyor, Hungary in early November this year.

The team will be pitting their prototype made from LEGO MINDSTORMS called Equinox Metropolitan against teams from 70 other countries.

The project, aimed at addressing road safety issues for road users utilises the IoT (Internet of Things) technology to control traffic lights at junctions by transmitting signals to and from vehicles to control their velocity as they near traffic lights.

(From left) National GENIUS@pintar College, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia students Loo Qiao Ning, Harun Azhar and Ahmad Azzam with their mentor, Kamarul Zaman Hamzah demonstrating what their robots can do. NSTP/HAFIZ SOHAIMI

The students attribute their success to guidance from UEM Edgenta Berhad on what constitutes a Smart City in Malaysia and the potential problems they could help overcome with their project

“We are grateful to the people at UEM Edgenta for their guidance and for making us see what are the potential challenges a smart city in Malaysia could face. With the information we got, we came up with the idea for the project,” said Loo, 16, the sole female participant in the team.

UEM Edgenta will also be taking care of the cost of transportation and logistics for the upcoming international robotics challenge in Hungary.

As part of the F1 in School activity, Team Vencera made up of six fourth formers at Pusat GENIUS@pintar Negara won the Best Research and Development Award, Best Engineering Award, and Best Presentation Award to emerge National Champions in 2019.

With that, the team won themselves the opportunity to represent Malaysia in the World Final F1 in School in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

However, taking the prototype to compete in Abu Dhabi fell on the shoulders of the juniors next in line as the original team that won the National Championship had the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations to sit for come November.

Realising how costly it is to enter an international competition with a prototype racing car, Team Vencera set about looking for sponsors to finance their entry.

They succeeded in convincing six sponsors that included the Education Ministry, Petronas, and Yayasan Pahang among others.

“We had to make sure our car could go fast and be stable. To achieve that, the choice of material is very important and can be very expensive, which was why we needed to get funders for our team participation,” said Nur Afiqah Zulkarnain, 16, of Team Vencera.

Director of the National GENIUS@pintar College, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Professor Datuk Dr Noriah Mohd Ishak at a press conference in honour of the students representing Malaysia at the World Robot Olympiad 2019, in Gyal, Hungary. NSTP/HAFIZ SOHAIMI

National GENIUS@pintar College, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia director, Professor Datuk Dr Noriah Mohd Ishak said: “I am proud of the two teams’ achievements at the national level and for making it to the international level, namely at the World Robotics Olympiad in Hungary and the World Final F1 in School in Abu Dhabi.

“From the start when the clubs were formed, our students have worked hard to try to win at every level. They also strived hard to be able to compete at the international level, before finally getting their first chance in 2015.

“The continuous effort by the students have made success possible and for the succeeding generations to continue the legacy,” she added.

By Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar

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Policy must be implemented properly

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

ABOLISHING the arts and science streams in schools may be the way forward but the implementation of this policy needs to be done well.

There is no point introducing a new plan in haste without carrying out comprehensive studies, teacher training and the necessary pilot projects to ensure all kinks are ironed out.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik meant well when he said that from next year, Form Four students might be able to choose and combine Arts or Science subjects as they liked. He called for the end of subject streaming after students get their Form Three Assessment (PT3) results.

Maszlee said the streaming system currently carried out in Form Four was ridiculous as it resulted in many students who were born to be scientists ending up in arts, and lots of students who were born to excel in the arts being forced to do science subjects.

He said there were many cases where children were pressured into achieving their parents’ dreams.

Those who did well in the PT3 go into science and those who perform less well go into accounts. Students with poorer results do arts.

Many talents have gone to waste because of this, he said.

Maszlee conceded that his officers told him that the “change” cannot be done in time but he’s pushing for it to start next year so that students can choose and combine Arts and Science subjects as they like.

This is certainly a noble cause but the Education Ministry needs to slow down and think it through before implementing such a huge move that affects not just students in schools but ultimately the degree programmes at the university level.

A fundamental question is if tertiary institutions locally and overseas are able to accept students into particular fields such as medicine and engineering without the necessary combination of subjects.

Another policy that was pushed through in mere months was the Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English (or better known by its Malay acronym PPSMI).

PPSMI was introduced in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003 under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as prime minister.

From the outset of the announcement of the policy change in 2002 to help arrest the declining standards of the English language among students, there had been consistent resistance to the move.

Within classrooms and staff rooms, in homes and offices, parents, teachers, students and educationists expressed a range of views, while letters to the editors in vernacular and other newspapers appeared almost every day.

Even the late Tan Sri Abdul Rafie Mahat, who was then the director-general of education in charge of implementing the change in policy, faced much opposition amid the hasty implementation of the policy, describing the task as “seven months of hard work’’.

The first year was filled with teething problems and Abdul Rafie chaired a crisis management meeting every week to ensure everything was running smoothly.

Maszlee’s announcement similarly appears to have drawn responses both for and against the move.

Many appear to be worried that it is being rushed through without proper consideration while some wonder at the cost.

This is a huge step which will change education as we know it but this is the way to go as the country heads towards a future where the jobs for the workforce don’t exist yet.

It is a heavy responsibility as it’s not always about what students like and don’t like to study but as long as due diligence is carried out and the ministry ensures that the necessary infrastructure is in place, then Maszlee’s unprecedented move to do away with streaming will be welcomed with open arms and our children will embrace this change.

By The Star Says
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Petrosains Science Festival in Sabah for the first time

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The Petrosains Science Festival, the largest science-themed festival in the country organised by Petrosains, The Discovery Centre has spread its wings to Sabah.

The festival was celebrated at Petrosains PlaySmart Kota Kinabalu on Sept 28 and 29 at the State Library.

More than 19, 000 visitors from all walks of life came for the two-day festival to discover more about interesting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning and take part in the fun activities of the festival.

This year’s festival is held in conjunction with Petrosains’ 20th anniversary and it is all about celebrating STEM.

With the tagline “Meet the Future”, the festival will focus on STEM-related content with the programmes and activities geared towards showcasing the wonders of these fields while taking a look at the scientific and technological advancements of the future.

The festival was filled with educational hands-on activities such as DIY workshops; science shows on lasers, dry ice and chemical reactions; robotic exhibition, Zumba sessions, science busking and many more.

As a corporate social responsibility arm of PETRONAS in the pillar of STEM, Petrosains hoped that through the festival, it could inspire the passion and interest in STEM in the community, especially the younger generation.

Petrosains aspires to make science a culture in the nation and help the nation to produce a future generation of scientifically literate and critical thinkers via a learning platform that is engaging, interesting, and accessible.

For the past 20 years, Petrosains has grown to become a locally and globally recognised institution that provides informal learning of STEM and regarded as an important supporting component in the nation’s education landscape.

“Through the festival, we want to bring STEM even closer to the community and provide more credible and interesting learning in STEM directly to the masses.

“With Kota Kinabalu as the first venue for the Petrosains Science Festival this year, we hope to benefit the community in Sabah by sharing meaningful and impactful learning experiences while providing a fun and enjoyable time to the visitors during the festival,” Petrosains said in a statement.

Organised in collaboration with partners, the first Petrosains Science Festival was held in 2013 and has always been celebrated in KLCC.

In 2018, the festival began venturing outside of Kuala Lumpur and was celebrated at Petrosains’ satellite centres – Petrosains PlaySmarts in Kuantan and Johor Bahru.

This year, the celebration is extended to all four Petrosains PlaySmarts which include Kota Kinabalu and Kuching (Oct 12 and 13), Kuantan (Oct 5 and 6), Johor Bahru (Oct 19 and 20), and the main event at Petrosains, Suria KLCC and the Esplanade, KLCC Park (Nov 1-3).

The festival pools together and provides a unified platform where partners from the corporates, industry players, government-linked companies and agencies, academics and institutions work together to inspire and instill an appreciation towards STEM in the community.

The event brings a diverse mix of activities from interactive to innovative workshops, interesting exhibitions, educational talks, fun science shows, entertaining performances, and many more.

Among the partners involved in the festival in Kota Kinabalu are Sabah State Library as the venue provider, UBTECH, Sabah Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, PETRONAS Dagangan, PETRONAS PLFNG, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and Young Scientist Network Malaysia.

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