THE Education Ministry will make Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more accessible.
STEM4ALL, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, is an initiative that brings together parents, educators, students, the private sector, and policy makers, to advance equitable STEM education for all. The main objective of STEM4ALL, a collaboration with Microsoft Malaysia, is to build a culture of inclusivity, he said at the launch of the campaign in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
“STEM4ALL represents a shift for STEM education in the country,” he said, adding that regardless of gender, socio-economic status, or special education needs, every student would get the opportunity to learn.
The ministry, he said, would raise interest in STEM education by supporting school participation in extra-curricular STEM activities. At least 100,000 students are expected to be involved. Access to STEM learning in all segments of society will also be enhanced through outreach programmes to remote schools, and evolving STEM to STREAM by adding Arts and Reading components.
STREAM expands STEM education, making it relevant to all with the inclusion of interdisciplinary projects, and problem-based inquiry learning.
Dr Maszlee said STEM4ALL aims to equip the future workforce so that they can adapt to advancements in new technologies and increase their employability in the digital age.
“It’s imperative to be fast adopters of artificial intelligence (AI). Over 67% of business leaders say technologies like AI will augment tomorrow’s jobs and enhance productivity.”
During the event, he also moderated a panel discussion with students Chloe Soh Ke Er and Serena Zara Taufiq, and Dr Jasmine Begum, Microsoft Malaysia & New Markets legal, corporate, and government affairs, director.
Ke Er, a robotics enthusiast, said youngsters must learn as much as they can now because as you get older, life gets busier.
“Don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Be bold. Be creative.
“You don’t always need a logical reason to do something. Do it because you want to. Do it because it’s fun and it makes you happy.”
Accessibility advocate Serena Zara said a STEM policy that appeals to youths - especially girls - is important.
“Boys are already interested in STEM.
“Maybe if we include things girls enjoy doing, it will increase their interest.”
Microsoft Malaysia managing director K. Raman said the campaign brings ‘digital STEM’ to teachers and students.
Students are more engaged and interested when they’re immersed in digital content, he said.
“So, using today’s technology like AI, machine learning, and augmented reality devices, to teach students STEM subjects, learning becomes more immersive.
“A case in point is learning coding using Minecraft technology. Students are used to playing games with Minecraft and because of the association, they’re naturally more engaged when they use it to code,” he said, adding that Microsoft aims to provide the content and platform to make it easier for students to engage with STEM.
Microsoft, he said, is also working with the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) and the Education Ministry to train teachers.
Having good, and rightly skilled teachers, with digital knowledge, is crucial in future-proofing tomorrow’s leaders.
“A digitally skilled teacher can impart and train the students in moving forward. At the core of STEM4ALL is teacher-training, and the sharing of technology with students.”
As part of the campaign, Microsoft is working with Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) to pilot its professional programme for data science curriculum.
Over 250 students will receive Microsoft data science certificates upon completion of the programme.
Interest among students has gone up tremendously in the data science subjects since the programme was introduced, he said.
“We’re also working with International Islamic University Malaysia on AI which now ranks among their top elective subjects in the computer science programme,” he said, adding that to arrest the decline in STEM interest among students, we’ve to move away from traditional paper-based learning to a more practical, hands-on approach. He said it’s important to ensure that no one gets left behind because of technology.
“We’re teaching digital skills to Universiti Malaya students so that they can transfer the knowledge to kids in rural and underserved communities.”
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