KUCHING: Education reformation from the traditional face-to-face approach to 21st century teaching and learning methods is necessary, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He stated that the nation’s education system has come under increased public scrutiny as expectations among parents rise, and employers voice their concern about the system’s ability to adequately prepare young Malaysians for the challenges of the 21st century.

“Today, children all over the world are tech-savvy. They find the factory model education in a test-centred culture boring and irrelevant. Thus, to keep up with ever-evolving demands, the rest of the world is constantly improving their approaches to education, and Malaysia must as well.

“I believe technology and the Internet have caused a shift from the traditional methods, so teachers are applying blended learning (BL) by combining face-to-face method and online learning.

“This approach can also make education equitable so that students in rural and urban schools can receive the same quality education. The government wants appropriate classroom sizes, reduce teachers’ administrative workload, provide better teaching aids, and apply blended learning,” he said.

Abang Johari’s speech was read out by State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong when he declared open the first International Conference on Education in the Digital Ecosystem (ICEdDE 2019) at Riverside Majestic Hotel here, yesterday.

He believed that the international consortium would greatly benefit the state’s education system through the usage of online learning management system software and matching the practices of high-performing education systems in European countries.

“Therefore, I urge educators in the state to deal with the increasingly pervasive use of technologies in the education environment. Our younger generation must be nurtured in their pursuit of education in the digital era,” he said.

“That is why the state government is aggressively adopting emerging technologies with global focus on developing a digital ecosystem. We have gone into a major paradigm shift in the economic development strategy with our transformation into a digital economy.

“The education system has been identified as one of the seven Key Result Areas (KRA) which embraced the digital ecosystem to produce quality, skilful and talented human capital that will become the engine that drives Sarawak to greater heights.”

Abang Johari further stated that the state government is committed to providing basic infrastructure to build the digital ecosystem, but it faces a challenge to connect the more rural and remote areas to the rest of the world.

“Thus, this conference augurs well for our digital economy particularly for our education agenda because it has become a platform for the stakeholders from outside this consortium to share information and discuss the way forward for education in the digital ecosystem,” he said.

He also reminded the local lecturers and teachers at the conference that they have a very important role to play and hoped that they would be motivated after the conference is over to continue reaching out to children to equip them with digital skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) within five years.

“Our children already have creative minds because they are surrounded by technology, making it easy for them to grasp the knowledge, and with greater exposure to how things work, they would innovate and later pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. You (teachers) have to provide the ecosystem,” he said.