Malaysia aims for 60 percent of children to take up STEM education - Najib

The country hopes to achieve the ratio of 60:40 for children interested in STEM as compared to non-STEM education and careers.

WELL-DESERVED: Najib checking out the STEM Hero award received by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept 23. Looking on is Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (right). - BERNAMApic | Astro Awani
Malaysia aims for 60 percent of its children and young people to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and career for a better future of the country, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said here today.

The Malaysian prime minister said the country hoped to achieve the ratio of 60:40 for children interested in STEM as compared to non-STEM education and careers.

The ratio was 25:75 in 2000 and increased to the present 42:58 following government’s commitment in supporting STEM education, he said in his speech when launching the Global STEM Alliance at the United Nations headquarters, here.

“There is a need for us to ensure a new generation of children and young people passionate about STEM education so that they want to choose STEM as a career,” he said.

He said investment in STEM was about investing in the future.

In substantiating his point on the matter, Najib said the government had several initiatives such as the Science to Action (S2A) programme, building up a nobelist mindset and cradle-to-career programmes in the move to accelerate their interest in STEM.

The S2A focuses on the intensification of science and technology build-up through education where technological know-how, engineering capabilities, industrial power and knowledge are generated and proliferated.

The government, he said, wanted Malaysians to strive to be a Nobel laureate as it could be the source of inspiration for people to take up STEM fields as a career.

“Even if Malaysia may not produce a Nobel laureate, the whole process involved in striving for the goal will lead to the emergence of a much stronger interest in STEM for a career.

“However, I hope that one day Malaysia can produce a Nobel laureate,” he said.

The prime minister commended his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, for initiating the gifted and talented kids programme known as PERMATA Pintar in a move to further promote STEM education.

Najib said children and young people could be drawn to science through a more interesting method of teaching and learning of the subject.

One way, he said, would be to get them involved in actual projects and give them some challenging projects in order to find solutions compared to the top-down approach which he felt was rather boring.

Touching on women's empowerment in Malaysia, Najib said access to quality education, having no discrimination against women and the introduction of specific policies such as allowing 30 percent of women in key decision-making bodies in the public and private sectors had enabled women to succeed.

At the same event, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova commended Malaysia for promoting its science and technology capabilities.

Bokova said Malaysia had built up such capacity-building through South-South cooperation.

The Global STEM Alliance is an initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences in partnership with over 70 governments, companies, NGOs, universities and schools aimed at, among others, to help rally global engagement and acceleration of STEM education worldwide.