Empowering educators to bridge the digital divide

Some 40 teachers participated in a four-day workshop in Tawau as part of DEP’s first phase to increase competency in digitalisation.

HAVING used traditional teaching methods throughout his career, Adonis Joel was amazed at how digitalisation can greatly facilitate and enhance teaching process and experience.

Adonis is one of the participants who recently completed the inaugural 12-month Digital Equity Programme (DEP) designed as an interactive and experiential programme for teachers and B40 students in Sabah.

It is part of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Intervention Ecosystem Programme, an initiative by PETRONAS and Petrosains for the state’s east coast community.

DEP aims at nurturing the interest in STEM among students by upskilling the capabilities of teachers in technical and digital-related areas, and engages with the teachers and students through digital creation activities.

Adonis said the design of the programme with a focus on technology and innovation encouraged him to pursue more digital methods of teaching.

“After participating in this programme, I am eager to further explore how digitalisation can ease the teaching process and assist students in enhancing their comprehension level,” said the SMK Abaka teacher.

Teacher Nursia Daming from SMK Merotai Besar was grateful for the opportunity to innovate together with her peers.

“The most valuable experience for me was being able to design and curate solutions to everyday problems, be it at home or in school.

“I also feel that students will benefit from knowledge of coding and robotics,” she added.

The programme inspired Ruhiyati Idayu from SMK Kuhara to enhance her teaching approach based on the techniques shared during DEP.

“The methods imparted throughout the programme can be applied within and beyond the classroom, and I believe it would bring a lot of value to the students,” said Ruhiyati.

Adonis, Nursia and Ruhiyati were among the 40 teachers who participated in a four-day workshop in Tawau that was part of DEP’s first phase to increase competency in digitalisation through a series of coding, robot-building, innovation and design thinking activities.

In Sandakan, teachers and students benefitted from DEP with workshops for students to provide exposure to STEM-related areas.In Sandakan, teachers and students benefitted from DEP with workshops for students to provide exposure to STEM-related areas.

Technology workshops employing informal learning approaches were also held in Sandakan, where DEP participants echoed similar positive sentiments.

SMK Merpati’s teacher Adzalan Mohd Amin appreciated the programme’s module that focused on empowering educators.

“This programme has sparked the idea for me to infuse teaching techniques gained during DEP into existing methods.

“There have been many educational collaborations between PETRONAS and the Ministry of Education, but I found this programme to be highly valuable because of the new knowledge I gained,” added Adzalan.

Teachers were not the only ones to benefit from the programme as there were also workshops dedicated for students to provide exposure to STEM-related areas.

Nurfiqri Azmie, a student from SMK Agama Tun Juhar who participated in the DEP in Sandakan, said the programme had been an eye-opening experience for him.

“As all the learnings were based on the four elements of STEM, I now have a better understanding of the topic. I am interested to know more about the career opportunities available within the field.

“Furthermore, this programme has increased my technical knowledge to prepare myself for the future,” he said when interviewed.

The programme left a lasting impression on Nur Alissah Adriana Eddie from SM Convent St Cecilia, who enjoyed the practical exposure to various technologies.

“The robot-building activities enhanced my problem-solving skills and stimulated my mind. I also gained a lot of knowledge in science and mathematics.”

She supports the continuation of DEP to develop more talent who are competent in technology and digitalisation.

“This programme will equip the current and future generation with increased knowledge in technology to propel the nation’s economy through innovation,” added Nur Alissah.

From a teacher’s perspective, continuing the programme will empower B40 students with the necessary skills for their future.

“This programme must be sustained to bridge the digital skills gap of those in the rural areas,” said Arziwan Alli Awang Talip from SMK Pasir Puteh.

DEP returns in January 2023 for the next phase, where Petrosains will provide technical guidance and consultancy to teachers and students participating in their annual robotic competition, the RBTX Challenge.

To encourage continuous activation and for teachers to disseminate the knowledge to other students, phase three of DEP will involve education officials and teachers forming a district-level committee and a school-level innovation club, which will be monitored by Petrosains through monthly reporting.

PETRONAS believes that change driven by education and capability development is indispensable. The global energy company is committed to nurturing wholesome and multi-dimensional talents and DEP will ultimately provide a conducive ecosystem for knowledge-sharing and collaboration to ensure a sustainable future in digital education.

Other efforts under the STEM Intervention Ecosystem Programme programme include Young Aspiring Mentees in STEM and the development of science centres in Tawau and Sandakan.

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