SCIENCE, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) permeate every aspect of today’s world, and the innovations that emerge from these fields underpin much economic development leading to the establishment of creative enterprises and rewarding careers.
People working in STEM are changing the face of the world we live in everyday, whether it is by making life-saving drugs and devices, researching new cures for cancer or creating new technologies that keep us healthier, safer and of course, entertain us.
Our education system plays a key role in equipping students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to effect these changes.
“We need a national focus on STEM education in our early years settings and schools to ensure we have an engaged society and a highly-skilled workforce in place.
“This requires a clear understanding of STEM education in the Malaysian context. The embedding of this understanding across our education system will help transform the STEM education experience throughout the schooling years,” said Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin.
STEM is at the heart of a new wave which is transforming the way we live and the way we work. STEM will help a competitive country to be part of the world’s developed countries.
The World Economic Forum’s report states that as many as 65% of children in primary school today will work in new, STEM-based fields in the future when they enter the workforce.
The Education Ministry has taken steps by introducing the Enhancing STEM Education initiative through the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to encourage pupils to venture into STEM fields in secondary level and tertiary education.
It is vital as strong fundamental skills in STEM enables students to think critically and solve problems thus preparing them as highly skilled workers needed in the industry.
The initiatives to enhance STEM education have considered the six students’ aspirations and how to provide qualified and adequate students in the STEM field through three steps:
* Increase students’ interest through the new teaching and learning approach and the strengthening of the curriculum;
* Improve teachers’ skills and abilities; and
* Improve student and public awareness.
STEM education is multi-faceted and goes well beyond the main disciplines that constitute the acronym STEM.
The foundations for STEM education begin in early childhood. From the earliest years through their play experiences and family environment, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to STEM.
“Young children naturally engage in early STEM exploration through hands-on multisensory and creative experiences.
“By engaging in these experiences, young children are developing curiosity, inquisitiveness, critical-thinking and problem-solving capacities which are built on through their primary and secondary school experience,” said Dr Amin.
Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) Student Learning executive director Dr Azwan Abd Aziz said that various activities and programmes are planned and will be implemented under the Enhancing STEM Education initiative.
The initiative targets to increase student’s interest in STEM subjects through the new teaching and learning approach and curriculum enhancement, improving teachers skills and abilities and raising student and public awareness on education and career in the STEM field.
The ministry hopes to produce students with the ability to think logically, are inventive, technology-savvy and are able to solve problems creatively and innovatively.
To sustain a supportive STEM education ecosystem, all stakeholders will need to work together to develop a connected learning network which is advantageous to all.
Multiple stakeholders have a role to play in supporting the STEM education experience of our young people so that we, as a nation, can overcome current misconceptions concerning ability and/or gender. Creating a sustainable STEM education ecosystem is the responsibility of the wider society and will play a key role in enabling and encouraging learners to become active and responsible citizens.
The objectives of the STEM Education Colloquium are to create interest and awareness among teachers on the importance of STEM in schools, as well as to improve the skills of STEM teachers through hands-on activities. The colloquium is in collaboration with higher education institutions, government agencies and the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) industry players, as they provided the complimentary venue and industry experts who contributed voluntarily for the colloquium.
The STEM Education Colloquium theme is “Education Through Exploration”.
In 2018, STEM education colloquium will be implemented in four zones – Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan and Perak – involving nearly 1,200 participants in each zone.
The university partners in each zone are Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris respectively.
This is a continuation of the colloquium that was implemented in 2017 in the Central Zone (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia), Eastern Zone (Universiti Malaysia Terengganu), Northern Zone (Universiti Sains Malaysia) and Southern Zone (Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia) involving more than 6,000 teachers.