GENEVA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has spoken of the need for Malaysia to harness skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) across all sectors to remain on the growth trajectory towards economic and societal gains.
He said Malaysia had transformed from an agriculture-based economy to a resource and manufacturing-based economy.
It was, however, discomforting to know that countries which started on the same level as Malaysia had moved much further ahead.
“It is evident that these countries have made full use of STEM to boost their fortunes,” he said.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said this during a visit to the International Bureau of Education (IBE) here on Wednesday, during which he presented his views on “The Role of STEM in Fostering Sustainable Development – The Malaysian Experience”.
Geneva was the second city he visited after a three-day working visit in Paris in connection with Malaysia’s bid to be on the Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) executive board for the 2015-2019 term.
He said in order for Malaysia to be in the high-income advanced economy bracket, the country’s future economic model must be based on the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry which were driven mainly by knowledge and innovation.
“A strategy comprising a series of actionable plans must be able to support the production rates needed for generating skilled STEM human capital at two levels, namely secondary schools and tertiary institutions, to achieve the target of 500,000 STEM graduates by 2020,” he said.
He added that there was a need to get students to love science and science classes.
Meanwhile, Malaysia has awarded US$300,000 (RM1.1mil) to the IBE – the Unesco institute specialising in educational content, methods and structures – for an initiative to strengthen STEM for girls in Africa and Asia-Pacific.
Muhyiddin handed over the contribution to IBE director Mmantsetsa Marope.
The 18-month project involves Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Indonesia, with Malaysia as the content consultant.
Muhyiddin also presented a copy of the Malaysian education blueprint for higher education to Marope.
She commented that the blueprint should not only be a gift to IBE but also to other Unesco member countries.“There may be challenges ahead in enhancing Malaysian education but we also have a lot to learn from Malaysia,” she said. – Bernama