TO encourage more students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the tertiary level, efforts need to be made in cultivating their interest in this field from young.
Through its Rays of Hope initiative, Yayasan PETRONAS has supported these efforts with the setting up of portable solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and solar-powered hydroponic systems at a primary school in Johor.
Under the initiative, some 81 Orang Asli pupils and their teachers at SK Seri Sedohok will have access to five units of solar PV technology that will be used during learning demonstrations for the Design and Technology (Reka Bentuk dan Teknologi) subject. The learning demonstrations will give pupils the opportunity to learn the main components of the solar PV system, the functions of the components, and the wiring and connection of the system.
They will also have access to two sets of solar-powered hydroponic systems which demonstrate the actual application of the solar PV technology.
With this, the pupils will be exposed to vegetable cultivation through hydroponic techniques, care and harvesting with guidance from their teachers. They will also be allowed to bring home the harvested vegetables.
In addition, the teachers and school staff were taught and trained to perform basic maintenance on the solar panels in the hydroponic systems to ensure the systems’ efficiency and sustainability.
The initiative was implemented together with the students, teachers and staff at SK Seri Sedohok, the Kluang district education office and Yayasan Universiti Tun Hussien Onn Malaysia as part of the Touch of Hope Sustaining Basic Economy for the People (Mekar) Programme.
Yayasan PETRONAS chief executive officer Shariah Nelly Francis said she hopes that the foundation will continue to expand the Mekar programme to help improve the living standards and quality of life of the Orang Asli community.
“With the implementation of this solar initiative at the school, we hope it will raise awareness and further nurture the interest of the pupils in STEM subjects,” she added in a press release on Aug 2.
Echoing her sentiments, PETRONAS Southern head Sazli Zakaria expressed his appreciation to all parties involved, especially the teachers and school staff, in ensuring the success of the initiative.
Located 40km from Kluang town and on the outskirts of Endau-Rompin National Park, SK Seri Sedohok is a boarding school for pupils from seven nearby Orang Asli villages, including Kampung Orang Asli Sedohok and Kampung Orang Asli Berasau.
The Rays of Hope initiative is a PETRONAS signature solar programme, aligned with its sustainability agenda and commitment to achieving its net zero carbon emissions aspiration by 2050.
The Mekar programme, under Yayasan PETRONAS’ community well-being and development focus area, supports its goals of promoting community well-being and development through long-term sustainable advancements in the areas of socio-economic developments, healthcare, safety and living environments among the communities in Malaysia.