KUALA LUMPUR: There will be three students taking up Science to every two students doing Arts by the year 2010. This is the target set by the Education Ministry to offset the current ratio of 43:57 which now favours Arts students.
Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said, to achieve a target of 60:40 ratio in favour of Science students by the year 2010, there would have to be an increase of 10% in the number of students taking up Science every year.
For this to happen, the ministry has planned several strategies, including the introduction of Science in Year One this year with emphasis on practical work.
Previously, Science was introduced in the school curriculum only in Year Four.
“To achieve our aim, we need to get students interested in Science from a young age,” said Musa.
To make it more enjoyable, he said, the hours for Practical Science lessons were increased.
A separate textbook on Practical Science was also published and used for the first time by Form One students this year.
“Before, there was no guidance or a structured programme to follow for Practical Science lessons. Everything was left to the teacher. We hope the textbook will result in more emphasis on practical work,” he said after chairing his ministry’s post-Cabinet briefing here yesterday.
Musa added that a big challenge faced by the ministry was creating an interest in Science among students.
“We want to make Science an interesting subject for students so that they will want to take it up. We don’t want to force them to take up Science as this will be counter-productive,” he added.
A key challenge is changing the way Science is taught in schools.
“Teaching and learning techniques will be improved. Teachers will be encouraged to use new technologies, including IT. They will also be sent on courses and more Science teachers will be hired.”
To achieve the 60:40 ratio, the ministry was also upgrading Science facilities in schools.
Matriculation places for Science students would also be increased from the current 20,000 to 30,000.
On another matter, Musa announced that Syed Othman Syed Omar, better known by his pen-name S Othman Kelantan, had been chosen as the ninth recipient of the National Literature Award (Anugerah Sastera Negara).
He is the first recipient since 1996. Previous winners were Keris Mas (1981), Shahnon Ahmad (1982), Usman Awang (1983), A. Samad Said (1985), Arena Wati (1987) Muhammad Haji Salleh (1991) Nordin Hassan (1993) and Abdullah Hussain (1996).
Musa, who chaired a 12-member committee which selected Othman, said he was honoured for the quality of his work.
Othman is famous for his novel Juara, which was made into a film entitled Jogho by U-Wei Saari, as well as the novel Nagogho Astana. His latest novel, Orang Kota Baru, was published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and staged as a musical this year.
Othman is expected to receive the award from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail at a ceremony here in January.
He will receive RM30,000 as part of the award. Some 50,000 copies of his works will be bought by the Government to be distributed to schools, libraries and government agencies.
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