STEM in Malaysia


Taken from the newly minted Education Blueprint:

Malaysia places great importance on education as a means of becoming a developed nation to meet the challenges and demands of a STEM driven economy, by 2020. Accordingly, the Malaysian government instituted the 60:40 Science/Technical: Arts (60:40) Policy in education in 1967 and started implementing it in 1970. The policy refers to the Ministry’s target for the ratio of students with significant STEM education to those with a greater focus on the Arts. This policy target has, however, never been met due to various factors discussed below.

In 2011, only 45% of students graduated were from the Science stream, including technical and vocational programmes. Additionally, the percentage of secondary school students who met the requirement to study Science after PMR but chose not to do so increased to approximately 15%. This raises concerns about the education system’s ability to produce sufficient STEM graduates for the economy.

The report goes on to say that the reason for this is (among others):

Limited awareness about STEM: There is a general lack of awareness among students and parents of the value of STEM learning and its relevance to everyday life. The 2008 survey conducted by the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre (MASTIC) found that public awareness of selected science and technology facts such as “the centre of the earth is very hot” and “all radioactivity is man-made” is lower in Malaysia compared to USA, Europe, South Korea, and India. Roundtable discussions with the Malaysian public also reflected a lack of awareness about STEM related career opportunities;

Now of course the blueprint conveniently forgets that the survey by MASTIC also denied evolution. The survey conducted by MASTIC was actually part of a broader initiative among governments to evaluate the attitude of people towards STEM in a particular geography/society. The questions for the survey were exactly the same across all countries, but MASTIC decided that the answers for the evolution part of the survey would be Ooomodified to fit ‘local needs’.

Now Evolution is real whether you’re Malaysian or South Korean or American, there is no difference. A wonderful characteristic of science is that it is universal–something MASTIC should be well aware off.

How can we promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths–if the people entrusted to promote STEM are injecting their personal beliefs into these fields in Malaysia?

Oh, and let’s not forget that when the press interviewed our ‘First Lady’ Rosmah, and sought her comment on the Japanese Tsunami, she responded that

“To me, this is a lesson to other countries, that in everything they do or in whatever development they plan, they should study the surrounding environment and connect it with climate change and green technology”

-Rosmah Mansor (“First lady of Malaysia”)

Completely ignorant of the fact that the tsunami had nothing to do with climate change or green technology–and these are the people we’re suppose to look up to?

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