PETALING JAYA: The government should train its focus on promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in schools rather than trying to show itself as being “more Islamic than PAS”.
Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, chairman of the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE), said mastery of STEM subjects would allow the country to produce world-class talent.
Speaking to host Shireen Muhiudeen on FMT’s talk show “Stakeholders, with Shireen”, Azimah said the government should “focus on STEM, focus on English, and focus on the good jobs that our children will fill in the future.”
She said the present government has got its priorities all wrong.
“This idea of becoming more Islamic than PAS, I think they’ve got it all wrong. They’re on the wrong path,” she said.
In 2021, the education ministry released statistics showing an alarming disparity between the number of Upper Form 6 students pursuing humanities studies as compared to STEM subjects. Students entering the science stream only accounted for 10% or less of the total enrolment in the cohort for years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Azimah said the education ministry must take proactive measures to revive interest in STEM subjects.
One such measure would be to revitalise the national STEM centre, she said.
“Unfortunately, the national STEM centre was taken by the education ministry and it was put in the basement.
“It was equipped with hardware and software that nobody wanted. Plus it didn’t have a budget, so it just died a natural death,” said Azimah.
Without such centres, she said Malaysia will not be able to nurture creators and innovators. The country also risks losing talents to foreign countries.
“Despite what we say about our poor education system, we are actually producing world-class global citizens. Countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore snap them up.
“We are losing fantastic talent, and we’re actually subsidising these developed countries,” she said.
During the tabling of Budget 2024 last month, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced a RM100mil allocation for the maintenance and upgrading of school computer labs, including the procurement of new equipment for STEM learning.
He also announced the establishment of a cross-ministerial STEM committee which will look into increasing enrolment in STEM subjects among high school students.