VC calls for STEM push amid drop in enrolment


KOTA SAMARAHAN: A drop in the number of students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related courses in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) is causing concern.

UNIMAS Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the drop is most noticeable in the number of students applying for information technology (IT) courses at the university.

“The change is not too obvious when it comes to courses in the engineering and medical field, but in the IT field, we observed a significant decrease in applicants since last year,” he said after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Skillseed Sdn Bhd (Exploria) here on Tuesday (Aug 2).

As such, Mohamad Kadim urged the state government to continue its initiative of establishing a STEM Education Lab which has been planned for 82 selected schools across Sarawak in all 82 state constituencies

Up to now, he said only 12 labs have been set up throughout the state.

“At our level we are indeed ready to implement this project but we are still waiting for approval for it to be implemented throughout Sarawak.

“For the school where we have built these labs, it has had a very positive impact on the students and pupils in the school because it creates an interest in STEM, in the hope that the students will continue to be interested in subjects related to STEM and furthering their studies in engineering, IT and medical fields,” he added.

He explained that it cost upwards of RM100,000 to set up a STEM Education Lab.

“This is because it involves us having to rebuild a classroom where we install tools or STEM education kits and also train the teachers and students.”

Elaborating on the MoU signing, he said Exploria and the UNIMAS Gamification Centre at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology will collaborate on educational modules, community outreach and knowledge transfer initiatives.

“Numerous programmes in the pipeline will be undertaken through collaboration and I believe the collaboration between UNIMAS and Skillet Exploria is timely.

“It will enable our talents from both agencies to re-imagine pathways for success in STEM Education and UNIMAS will use its extensive knowledge and skills in STEM research and experiential learning and Skillet Sdn Bhd will activate their STEM development ideas, financial literacy and entrepreneurship in the collaboration.

Exploria chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Raihan Musa signed the MoU along with Mohamad Kadim and it was witnessed by Exploria chairman Datuk Majid Mohamad.

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