KUCHING: The federal government has been urged to set up the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) labs in primary schools to prepare young minds for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0).
Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said, “We (Sarawak) do not have science labs in our primary schools, let alone STEM labs.
“There should be a science/STEM lab in all primary schools. That will definitely arouse interest in students and through the labs, they would be able to grab the principles of science or STEM.”
He said this when launching the Sarawak Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Symposium (SaSTEMS) 2019 at Grand Margherita Hotel here, yesterday.
He also noted that performance those Sarawak students in the science stream after having completed Form 3 Assessment (PT3) is 24.3 per cent this year, which is far below the national target of 60 per cent.
He is worried about how the students are going to face the challenges of IR4.0 which definitely will create a lot of jobs that require different skills and knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and algorithm.
He said, “The students must be computer literate in order to face the challenges of the 21st century for Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“They need to be taught basic computer programming and basic coding right from their formative years. These are the things that we need to start.
“The problem with our system is that we emphasise more on secondary and tertiary education, and so these higher institutions are given better facilities.
“In Sarawak we have 1,465 schools comprising 193 secondary and the rest are primary schools. Out of that number, a total of 415 rural primary schools are critically dilapidated.
“Thus, I sympathise with the rural teachers who are demoralised when they see their living quarters. So, students and their teachers are demoralised due to the bad condition of almost everything in their schools.”
When asked at a press conference after the event whether Sarawak is ready to implement the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English next year, Manyin replied in the positive.
“We have spent RM11 million for training the trainers, training the 2,853 teachers and also print the books and other materials necessary for the implementation. We will also monitor the programme at least for six months next year. Everything is already in place,” he assured.
He noted that the implementation would cover 1,026 primary schools state-wide, not including 220 Chinese schools (SJKC).
Touching on the lack of infrastructure in rural schools, he said, “As far as computers are concerned some use electricity produced by generators. We are going to connect about 200 schools to the state grid after having depended on generator sets all these years.
“We have the money allocated by the state government. It will cost us about RM50 million (for the electricity supply) and the same applies to all 428 schools which lack treated water for which we will put up RM9 million,” he said.