ALL primary schools in the state must have science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) labs to give hands-on experience to the pupils on practical use of the subjects in everyday applications, in order to inculcate the love for (STEM subjects), and encourage enrolment into science stream.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin said: “We have to provide our primary school pupils opportunities to do science activities and hands-on lab experiments very early.
“According to the National Science Teachers Association of the United States, this is important as hands-on investigation through laboratory experimentation is the best way to introduce students to scientific inquiry, the process of asking questions and conducting experiments as a way to understand the natural world which is the foundation of science education.”
The labs would allow students to design investigations, engage in scientific reasoning, record observations, analyse data and results, and discuss their findings, he said in his winding-up speech yesterday,
“Not only is it a better way to learn science, but it is also more fun,” he added.
Manyin said one of the major concerns at both national and state levels was the low enrolment of students in science stream after PT3, and subsequently the lack of qualified students to take up technology and science-based programmes in our universities.
“In Sarawak for example, we only have 24.3 per cent of students taking up pure sciences in Form 4 and about 6 per cent are enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.
“Providing opportunities to be involved in science activities and computational thinking in their formative years will nurture and develop student’s interest and performance in STEM,” he said.
Manyin also wanted all primary schools to have computer labs, especially for rural schools.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that some of our students in remote rural schools have not even seen a computer, let alone use one.
“How then can we teach and develop computational skills to these students?” he questioned.
As computer literacy and computational skills were regarded as core skills for 21st Century, Manyin said it was imperative that the state government expose young Sarawakians students to computers.
However, he said that providing computer labs in all schools was only half the solution.
“We also need to have properly designed programmes and activities embedded into our primary school curriculum. Appropriate mechanisms must be developed to assess student-learning.
“Teachers must be given training and necessary resource support for them to conduct lessons in computational thinking and skills.”
He said both STEM labs and computer labs in primary schools would be very important, and a game changing initiatives that would have significant impact on preparing Sarawakian children for the challenges of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0).
“I therefore urge the Ministry of Education to consider our request seriously to include computational literacy and practical science education in primary schools, and to set up these labs in all primary schools in the country.
“The state government will complement the federal government’s efforts in Sarawak through additional training and supplementary resources,” Manyin added.