Stimulating interest in science, tech and innovation | Daily Express Malaysia

Stimulating interest in science, tech and innovation

Published on: Saturday, December 23, 2023

By: Hayati Dzulkifli

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Stimulating interest in science, tech and innovation

Dr Mohd Arifin looking at a robot technology with Mosti Minister Datuk Arthur Kurup while others look on during Borneo Science Roadshow 2nd Series 2023 in Membakut.

THE State Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (KSTI) is committed to stimulating the interest of students in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) as a new era to develop the nation and State.
Datuk Dr Mohd Arifin bin Mohd Arif said his Ministry is preparing Sabah students through various initiatives to boost their interest in STI for human capital development. He said some 83 million jobs will end but about 69 million STI-related jobs would emerge by 2027, according to Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti).    

If is essential for the Ministry to prepare the young, especially students, for this new era of STI.
“The initiatives to promote Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and foster a culture of innovation include: 
i. Stem Education Enhancement: KSTI work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other relevant bodies to improve Stem education in schools. This can involve curriculum development, teacher training, and the provision of Stem learning resources.
ii. Science and Innovation Competitions: KSTI often supports or sponsors science and innovation competitions and challenges for students. These competitions encourage students to apply their knowledge and creativity to solve real-world problems.

iii. Stem Camps and Workshops: Organising Stem camps, workshops, and outreach programmes to provide hands-on experiences and engage students in Stem-related activities.
iv. Stem Career Awareness: Conducting career talks, seminars, and exhibitions to expose students to various Stem career paths and opportunities.


v. Public Awareness Campaigns: Running public awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of STI in society and its potential to drive economic growth and development.
vi. Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support: Providing resources and support for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, including startup incubators and accelerators.
vii. International Collaboration: Collaborating with international organisations and participating in international-level Stem events to expose students to global trends and opportunities in science and technology.
Dr Mohd Arifin said KSTI has collaborated with mostly Mosti, Sabah Education Department (JPNS), as well as Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Tawau Drone Club and National Stem Association, PetroSains, and China.
Among the activities and programmes organised this year, were Stem Outreach Programmes such as “Jelajah Astronomi”, “Cerapan Astronomi” programme, a State-level National Science Week, Fiesta Stem, and Stem Mini Theatre, while under Stem Competitions were National Science Challenge, Sabah Science Carnival, Malaysia Techlympics, Tawau Drone Challenge, and RoboNEO.
For Stem extracurricular activities, he said JPNS organised a “Plenty Out There” programme, and Stem Club while for Stem Education program, PetroSains organised Duta Guru Stem Training and Digital Equity Programme, a NGO Google Educators Group (GEG) conducted GEG Energiser for teachers.
He said KSTI and JPNS jointly organised National Stem Education Colloquium while JPNS conducted Stem School Quality Standard for the purpose of educating the teachers and educators for Stem education.

Dr Mohd Arifin posing with participants among the school children and KSTI officials at National Science Week Carnival and a State-level Malaysian Techlympics 2023.

KSTI also aimed to enhance public awareness via organising Stem awareness campaign together with China for the first time for its “Mobile Exhibition: Experiencing Science, Enlighten Innovation”, that was also held in 14 districts including at Keningau Science Centre, in Keningau library, this year.
These initiatives aim to stir the curiosity of young students on STI and encourage them to enter the field of Stem at an early stage of education as well as to educating the teachers.
On student enrolment in Stem, Dr Mohd Arifin said based on the data derived from JPNS, the rate of students in Stem last year was 24.74pc and as of November 2023 it is 28.05pc, while the national record of Stem students is at 42pc.
He said the target percentage for Stem enrolment among students is 60pc, hence, more Stem initiatives are needed to achieve such a goal. 
“He said the, low number of students in Stem is due to a variety of factors, and it’s often a combination of these factors rather than a single cause. 
Some of the common factors that can contribute to a decrease in students’ interest in Stem include:
i. Students: Lack of confidence in venturing into Stem A/B, low math results, lack of exposure and guidance towards the Stem education path;
ii. Parents/Society: Lack of exposure and confidence in Stem education and career paths;
iii. School leaders: Lack of clarity regarding the selection of Stem packages and the relationship with student opportunities, still low understanding of the importance of Stem, lack of effort to develop student potential and administrators’ concerns about student achievement in SPM;
iv. System and support: Emphasis on the existing education system that emphasises the Average School Grade without looking at the weighting of certain subjects, there is no analytical data system that can show the relationship between the potential, SPM results and educational and career opportunities that can be pursued as well as interweaving and support from parties- stakeholders are still at a low level.
v. Source: Lack of teachers who are skilled in teaching Applied Science and Technology, schools do not have the facilities to offer Stem subjects.
vi. Facilities: Science laboratories are not conducive and lack practical training equipment and teachers still lack exposure to the implementation of inquiry-based teaching and problem solving. 
“There is also not enough Stem books available in Bahasa Malaysia as most of them are in English. However, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad said English as a language for Stem cannot be dismissed.
“KSTI with its collaborative partners often implement initiatives and measures to promote Stem education and engage students and youths in Stem field,” he said.
To evaluate the success of these initiatives, he said KSTI together with JPNS monitors any increased on Stem enrolment, academic performance, and participation rates and careers opportunities.

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