KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has called for a progressive education environment in Sarawak, where there is no gender or racial discrimination.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of a new technical college here, Adenan said “skills are skills, smarts are smarts”, adding that the state needed all the talent it could get.
“We need more skilled manpower – both boys and girls. In fact, girls are as skilful as men, if not more so,” Adenan said at the Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak’s (Centexs) yesterday.
He remarked that there were not enough female graduates in the crowd. “Next time, if there are no women here, I won’t be officiating anymore,” he quipped.
He said the state’s education policies would not discriminate against anyone. “We are open to all races.”
In his speech, Adenan also briefly mentioned that the Sarawak government was in talks with Petronas to set up more technical education institutes. He did not elaborate.
The first Centexs convocation was a modest affair, with just 80 over graduates. Adenan said the college could accommodate up to 500, but currently had only an enrolment of around 250.
The Chief Minister said the state government might lower entry requirements slightly in order to enable more to attend technical colleges. There was no point building colleges with high entry requirements but low enrolment numbers, he said.
On youths’ role, Adenan said those who were too lazy would be left behind, pointing out that education opportunities were plentiful and affordable in Malaysia.
“Don’t be lazy. Technical education is not for the lazy. I don’t want to see any more young people in the kampungs hanging around with nothing much to do. Get a technical education. Nowadays, SPM is no longer enough. You just try to find a good job these days with an SPM certificate.”
He also emphasised the importance of learning English. “Some employers like foreign companies, they only known English. Many of our graduates fail their interviews because their English is poor. So I ask you to go further than a basic qualification.”
Centexs, located near Santubong, used to be known as the Pusat Latihan. The institute was revamped and reopened as Centexs in October last year. It offers short technical courses, which can be completed between three and six months.
The graduates yesterday took courses in welding, scaffolding and port equipment management.
Adenan said due to Sarawak’s industrialisation, technical education graduates were far more employable than arts graduates.
“I know that, sometimes, some of you skilled worker graduates go on to jobs that pay more than your lecturers. Such is demand and supply,” Adenan said.