STEM push for teachers

(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.”

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