KUCHING: Sarawak hopes to achieve 40 per cent of its students entering pure Science stream in Form 4 in the next two to three years, said Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin.
He said the number of students in the state who took up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects this year was only 23 per cent, far below the national target of 60 per cent.
“The percentage of students taking up STEM when they go to Form 4 has to be more than 23 per cent because probably when the students enter Form 6, the percentage goes down and by the time they go to
university, the percentage is even smaller.
“The national target for STEM is 60 per cent but unfortunately I cannot speak on behalf of the nation. For Sarawak, this year we only achieved 23 per cent,” he said in a press conference here yesterday.
Manyin said although this year’s percentage is slightly higher than last year’s, Sarawak needs to push the STEM agenda in view that the state and nation are aiming for digital economy and digital society in the next five to 10 years.
“If we do not improve, it will be a big challenge for the state to achieve its goal, which is why we are targeting that in two to three years, we can achieve the 40 per cent target of our students taking up STEM,” he added.
Earlier, the minister chaired a meeting with Batu Lintang Teacher Education Institute representatives at his office where he was updated on the progress of the teaching of STEM-related subjects in English in primary schools in Sarawak, as well as on the plans to expand the programme next year.
Manyin said the Education Ministry (MoE) has been very supportive of the programme, adding he has been engaging with the ministry on the matter ever since Sarawak took up the challenge to become the first state in Malaysia to teach English and Science in English in its primary schools.
“I am very happy that MoE really supports us 100 per cent to implement PPSMI (Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English) this year.
“Next year, probably the syllabus in English will be extended until Form 5, and from then on the state may have to come up with RM7 million to RM8 million every year to continue to acquire the materials as well as to train the teachers,” he said, adding the state government had spent RM10 million this year to retrain over 2,000 teachers to teach the two subjects in English.
Meanwhile, Batu Lintang Teacher Education Institute director Jamiran Salam said the institute had been tasked with improving the performance of primary and secondary school students in STEM-related subjects, and is determined to inculcate students’ interest in Science and Mathematics.
He said the institute had since last year launched a STEM pilot project in two schools, namely SMK Tebedu and SMK Matang Jaya.
According to him, both Universiti Tenaga Nasional and Sarawak Energy Berhad had funded RM100,000 for the pilot project at the two schools and with Manyin’s ministry now involved in the project, it will be expanded to 20 more schools in the state next year.
“Our aim is to expand the project throughout the state,” he said, adding the 20 schools set to be included in the programme next year comprise three primary schools and 17 secondary schools.
Among those present with Manyin at the press conference was Batu Lintang Teacher Education Institute STEM coordinator Ravi Gopal.