KUCHING: Malaysian students’ declining performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be addressed in order to nurture creativity and innovation.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Datuk Len Talif Salleh said innovative achievements were closely linked to good performance in these subjects, as seen in advanced countries.
He said it was worrying that Malaysia placed 52 out of 76 countries in a report published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development based on the Programme for International Student Assessment, which assessed mathematics, science and reading abilities of 15-year-olds.
“Singapore was at the top while Malaysia’s ranking was below Vietnam in 12th place and Thailand in 46th. The question is whether our education system supports and nurtures innovative and creative ideas in the younger generation.
“In order to produce innovative ideas and goods, the talents of the younger generation must be developed and nurtured. Otherwise we will not be able to come up with sustainable solutions effectively,” he said.
Opening the first Technology and Innovation National Conference here yesterday, Len said the government was supportive of efforts to improve the nation’s innovative capabilities.
He said these included creating the right environment and opportunities for innovation through human capital development and investment as well as funding research activities. He also called on the conference participants to explore new ideas and carry out innovative research in engineering and technology.
“We must keep working hard to enhance research in Malaysia. The government has spent not a small amount for this purpose,” he said.
The three-day conference was organised by Politeknik Mukah in cooperation with the Malaysian Society of Engineering and Technology, Politeknik Kuching, Politeknik Metro Betong, Curtin University and University College of Technology Sarawak.
Politeknik Mukah plans to make it an annual event as a pltform for researchers and academics to share ideas in technology and innovation.