21st century facility: Kamalanathan making himself at home in a Frog classroom at SMK Assunta in Petaling Jaya.
Speaking before witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between SG Education Group and Pearson Education here yesterday, Kamalanathan said it was imperative that Malaysia had in place a skills-based workforce in order to achieve Vision 2020.
“Every industry needs a skilled workforce,” he said, adding that it was necessary for parents to recognise that not every child is academically inclined.
For these children, there are still pathways that would allow them to graduate from vocational and polytechnics, before entering universities. However, Kamalanathan stressed that beyond just having knowledge on skills, vocational school graduates must also be industry-ready – meaning that they are ready to start work immediately upon being employed – and not have to undergo additional training.
“There is a huge demand for skilled employees but we need more facilities (to train them). The ministry has the facilities but it is not enough to cope with the demand,” he said, adding that there were 170,000 applications for each polytechnic intake that could only take in about 20,000 students.
At another event earlier, Kamalanathan said the reduced allocations under the recalibrated Budget 2016 should not affect students.
“We try our best not to touch any expenditure that directly affects funds for the children. Cost-cutting could take other forms, such as using simpler venues for events instead of a hotel,” he said after launching three newly refurbished classrooms at SMK Assunta in Petaling Jaya.
Called Frog Classrooms (after FrogAsia, a YTL subsidiary), the initiative is a joint effort between the YTL Foundation, the SMK Assunta board, the parent-teacher association, and the school alumni to provide “21st century classrooms”.
The Leo Club and Interact Club also raised RM10,000 each for the project.
Kamalanathan, who was impressed that the transformation of the three classrooms took just five months, said educational facilities must evolve to keep things fresh.
“It must change according to time, development and, most importantly, the needs of the children,” he said.
A Frog classroom facilitates learning by providing a comfortable IT-ready environment that encourages interaction between student and teacher, as well as among students.