CM: STEM literacy will unlock Sarawak’s potential

Carlson raising the trophy high after receiving the Sarawak Chief Minister Golden Hand Award from Abang Johari (fourth left).

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 12: Basic literacy in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is increasingly important as the future of work is in technology.

Highlighting this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg wants Sarawakian children to pick up STEM subjects from an early age because intellectual capital is the key to keeping Sarawak growing.

“Sarawak is blessed with abundance of resources but we lacked the application of technology to add value to our resources,” he said in his address at the closing ceremony of Worldskills Malaysia Sarawak 2019 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here today.

“There are three factors of technology important for the future, namely namely nano technology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence,” he said.

Considering these three components, he pointed out that STEM education forms the basis to acquire knowledge and skills to better oneself as well as transform the country and Sarawak in particular.

“Even in culinary fields, you need (the knowledge and understanding of) science about food and mathematics if you want to set up a restaurant. The operation of restaurants has changed with automation and computerisation technologies,” he added.

Abang Johari (fourth right) receiving the Worldskills Malaysia Sarawak 2019 plaque from Sarawak participants Hanafi Osman (fourth left) and Ahmad Naim Mohammad Rosli (fifth left) who represented Malaysia at the Worldskills 2017-2019 competitions before securing the plaque on a stand to symbolically mark the end of the competition.

Abang Johari reiterated that basic STEM knowledge is fundamental to not only navigate through the technology-filled world that we live in today but also to ensure a successful future.

“Technology is the ‘in’ thing in the future so whether we like it or not, we need to understand and command technology,” he said.

He emphasised that the English language is equally important to deepen knowledge and skills in STEM, which is why the state government has placed English as the second most important language after Bahasa Malaysia the national language.

“In the future, jobs will change, so in your younger and learning years, you need to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills,” he told those present.

“For example, sensor technology which is autonomous technology in driverless vehicles will require technicians with new knowledge and skills to repair and service the vehicle,” he said.

Abang Johari emphasised that the Sarawak government will continue to invest in future sources of growth including education and infrastructure to harness Sarawak’s potential.

“The Sarawak government will prepare the infrastructure to enable our children to learn and flourish in STEM subjects and life. We will upgrade the telecommunication infrastructure to 5G because a fast and real time connection is crucial,”he said.

“I assure you with your passion and dedication, including teachers and parents, we can transform Sarawak into a developed state by 2030,” he added.

Abang Johari and other distinguished guests in a group photo with all the winners of Worldskills Malaysia Sarawak 2019.

Worldskills competitions are regarded as the ‘Olympics of Skills’ and organised under the auspices of Worldskills International, a global organisation involving the participation of 76 nations that is dedicated to raising the profile and recognition of skilled people as well as highlighting the significance of skills in achieving economic growth and personal success.

This year’s competition attracted 250 participants competing across 15 categories.

In line with the state’s focus on developing the digital economy, four new skill categories from the field of Information and Communication Technology have been included in this year’s competition.

The ceremony also witnessed the presentation of awards and prizes to the top three winners in each of the 15 competition categories as well as the Sarawak Chief Minister Golden Hand Award with prize money of RM5,000.

Hermit Dominic of Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Kota Samarahan who emerged the winner in the Welding category, which offered a RM3,000 cash prize, also bagged the Sarawak Chief Minister Golden Hand Award.

Assistant Minister of Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee, Assistant Minister of Community Well Being Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, and Assistant Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, were among those present.