Manyin urges Education Ministry to equip primary schools with STEM, computer labs

Manyin delivering his winding-up speech.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 12: The Sarawak government has requested Putrajaya to consider its proposal to equip all primary schools with STEM and computer labs to promote literacy on technology and computing.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong expressed hope that the Education Ministry would seriously consider the proposal.

He cited developed countries like Finland, Germany, Estonia, Singapore and Japan, where the majority population are well versed in the ICT language, knowledge and skills today amid early school exposure in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

“The state government will complement the federal government’s efforts in Sarawak through additional training and supplementary resources,” he said in his ministerial winding-up speech in the DUN sitting here today.

Manyin said computational literacy and foundation in technologies are tools that are endemic to Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithm, bots and big data that will become an integral component of the curriculum – the single biggest determinant of future success.

He added that Sarawak needed to leapfrog the transformation, so as to prepare students to face the challenges of IR4.0 and develop its digital economy agenda

“Don’t worry about (Internet) connectivity as we want the children especially in rural areas to know the basic of computing first. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of our students in remote and rural schools have not even seen a computer, let alone use one,” he claimed.

As computer literacy and computational skills are regarded as core skills for 21st century, he added that it was imperative to expose young students to the use of computers.

Manyin also said that providing computer labs in schools was only half the solution, as there was also the need to have properly designed programmes and activities embedded into the curriculum.

“Teachers must also be given training and necessary resource support for them to conduct lessons in computational thinking and skills.”

He said one of the major concern at both national and state level was the low enrolment of students in science stream after PT3 (Form Three assessment) and subsequently the lack of qualified students to take up technology and science based programmes in universities.

“In Sarawak for example, we only have 24.3 per cent taking up pure sciences in Form Four and about six per cent are enrolled in TVET programmes for a combined total of only 30 per cent STEM students.

“Both STEM labs and computer labs in primary schools are very important and can be game changing initiatives that will have significant impact on preparing our children for the challenges of IR4.0,” he said. — DayakDaily