Govt worried over dwindling number of STEM students

PUTRAJAYA: The dwindling number of students interested in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is worrying the government, says Yeo Bee Yin.

The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister said in 2018, only 44% of students took STEM subjects, a lot less than the government’s target of 60%.

“The government aspires to become a developed nation, and for that, the country needs to produce more students who excel with science, technology and digital knowledge.

“The target is to have a 60:40 ratio of students pursuing science and arts stream.

“But it is worrying to see the number dropping every year. Last year, only 44% of students were in science class, a decrease from 48% in 2012.

“A 4% drop may appear small, but it is not. Every year, there are 6,000 fewer students taking STEM subjects.

“Subsequently, this is reflected at university-level as well. In 2017,334,742 students took up courses in science, mathematics, engineering and construction in our universities compared to 570,858 who pursued arts and humanities courses, ” said Yeo at a press conference after launching the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Education in Schools’ programme at SK Presint 16(2) Putrajaya.

Yeo said the school programme is part of the ministry’s efforts to expose students to STEM at a young age, and to encourage them to pursue a career in science and technology.

The minister said one of the reasons why STEM subjects are getting less interest among the young is because they are deemed harder than arts subjects.

“It is important to encourage children to enjoy STEM at a young age and make them understand how science and technology is relevant to our daily lives.

“There is nothing more important than creating a generation that are talented and interested in science, ” said Yeo, who added that the government had allocated RM3mil for the programme to be conducted until the end of the year.

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