SIBU: The Woodlands International School (WIS) has been commended for introducing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) digital initiatives and digital makerspace.
In this respect, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapa’ee said these programmes could help address the decline in the number of students taking up Science Stream subjects.
He also believed in the importance for students to be equipped with advanced technological knowledge so that they could remain competitive.
“Our country still needs a lot of engineers and computer science graduates to cope with the increasing demand. That explains why the teaching of Mathematics and Science must be conducted in the English language,” he said in his opening remarks for the ‘WIS Open Day’ yesterday.
The event also held the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the STEM digital initiatives and digital makerspace, involving the international school and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Ahmad Hata Rasit represented Unimas at the event, while chief operating officer Charles Tiong represented WIS.
The school’s board of directors member Tiong Chiong Hee and school principal Aubrey Groves were present to witness the ceremony.
Adding on, Dr Annuar said statistics had revealed that students’ admission into Form 4 Science Stream had been on the decline over the past five years.
He said in 2014, only 31.6 per cent of students going into Form 4 registered for Science Stream classes.
“By 2017, the figure had become very alarming when it dropped to only 19.7 per cent,” he said, adding that last year, there was a slight increase to 23.2 per cent.
However, he viewed this as still being ‘far beyond the national target of 60 per cent for the Science Stream, and 40 per cent for other streams’.
“Here, we could not even reach half of that target and by the time they (students) proceed to universities, the figure would drop further,” he lamented.
As such, Dr Annuar said what WIS had been doing was meant ‘to prepare our students in the future of this technological era’.
“Indeed, students without the technological knowledge would not be able to compete with others.”
Dr Annuar also stressed about the importance of mastering the English language.
“That is why the state government has made it compulsory for all Primary 1 pupils to learn Science and Mathematics in English, starting next year.
“This is not an easy decision for us as we need to face lots of debates and arguments, the pros and the cons – still, we have to take this risk just because the future of our children lies in mastering English.”
In this regard, Dr Annuar called upon all Sarawakians to support the government in ensuring that the implementation of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English would be successful in Sarawak.
On a related matter, he also expressed his hope for the WIS to open its digital makerspace to the public, believing that every Sarawakian deserved access and opportunity to it.
Meanwhile, Dr Annuar announced that the Sarawak government would build another five international schools in Sarawak – one of which would be in Sibu.
“The additional international school here is not meant to compete with WIS; rather, it is aimed at increasing the standard (in education) for the sake of our children. Let the children compete but at the same time, the school should provide a comprehensive and holistic way of teaching to the students.”