Tag Archives: STEM

Equip all schools with Tvet facilities — KGBS

Ahmad Malie

SIBU: Sarawak Bumiputera Teachers Union (KGBS) has suggested that all schools be equipped with technical and vocational education training (Tvet) learning facilities.

KGBS president Ahmad Malie believes this is a step in the right direction to intensify learning based on Tvet.

“In that way, learning on Tvet will be known and eventually exposed to all students in the country’s education system.

“Therefore, KGBS is always ready to give holistic view to help the government through Education Ministry (KPM) to strengthen the learning of Tvet in the country’s education system and become the first choice among students in time to come,” he added yesterday.

Ahmad was asked to comment on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s recent statement that the state-owned University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) was set up to meet the demand of Sarawak’s industrialisation programme which needs some 500,000 technical workers in the next 12 years to become an industrialised state.

Abang Johari had said this in his speech during the opening of UCTS’ inaugural Sarawak Innovation and Technology Exhibition 2018 (Saintex’18) last Thursday.

According to Abang Johari, in the past, TVET was not given much emphasis compared to the mainstream education system which focused on academic excellence. For example, only eight per cent of secondary schools in Malaysia are involved in Tvet, which is low compared to advanced countries like Germany and Switzerland, where almost 60 per cent are in Tvet. In Singapore, 75 per cent of its secondary schools are in Tvet.

On this, Ahmad said: “KGBS has stated its support since the beginning when KPM stressed on the implementation of Tvet in Malaysia’s education system.

“KGBS is always supportive of government’s efforts to focus on Tvet learning which was stressed upon by UCTS recently.

“In this regard, KGBS urged that such effort to strengthen Tvet be expedited by setting up the educational institution anywhere in our country.”

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Technical training also for the gifted

START a conversation about the education system and someone is bound to be riled up. With global indicators showing that our children lag behind in literacy and numeracy skills, and our graduates lack soft skills and are unemployable, it’s hardly surprising.

The common view is that we need to do something about our education system. But are we certain of the real problems and how we should solve them? First, we know that our human capital falls short in quality and quantity. We need more graduates, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Statistics show that about two-thirds of our workforce have secondary qualifications and below.

We look up to South Korea and envy its achievement in economic and human capital development. It managed to escape the middle income trap when we haven’t. At an extraordinary rate of 98 per cent, it boasts the highest gross tertiary education enrolment rate in the world. Virtually all South Korean youth go to university after secondary school. Like South Korean parents, Malaysian parents, too, place a high value on university education. We take pride in our children who have obtained a place in universities, and even more so, if they are abroad.

More universities were built locally as demand for higher education spiked, especially with the opening up of the industry to private sector players. As a result, our gross enrolment rates have increased from about 22 per cent in 1998 to about 37 per cent in 2013.

But, along the way, we realise that this approach is slowly breaking down. The economy is suffering from a severe labour mismatch amidst the persistent shortfall in the number of students in STEM.

Perhaps the economy doesn’t need as many university graduates. Even South Korea is being saddled with the same realisation. Although employing about 90 per cent of the South Korean workforce, its small and medium enterprises are unable to attract local talents who instead prefer to work with the higher-paying chaebols, or the top-ranked companies. In 2011, Lee Myung-Bak, the former South Korean president, warned its youth against a reckless entrance into universities. The Economist magazine said that the country is “glutted with graduates”.

But culture and perceptions are not easily changed. Our people — students, parents and policymakers — remain obsessed with obtaining university degrees.

Nowadays, there is increasing attention towards technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and, as PEMANDU’s analysis has revealed, at least 40 per cent of the jobs to be created by 2020 require such qualifications.

A group of educationists and policymakers are now looking to countries, such as Switzerland and Germany, for inspiration. TVET in these countries not only have the society buy-in, it is also employer and market-driven. In Switzerland, about 70 per cent of its youth are enrolled in the vocational stream. About 30 per cent of Swiss companies host apprentices. Likewise, in Germany, about 60 per cent of high school graduates go on a vocational training programme that embeds workplace training. Learning by doing is the cornerstone of their education system. As a result, the labour market in both economies held up pretty well during the European and global economic slowdown.The unemployment rate of 15-to-24-year-olds is relatively close to the adults (25-year-olds and above) unemployment rate, at about 1.5 times, when the global average is about three times.

TVET in Malaysia has been evolving. From vocational schools where fourth formers interested in a vocational course had to apply to special schools, to vocational programmes where students can choose a course at their local school, to basic vocational education where students can enrol in the vocational stream as early as Form One.

Access to vocational education has expanded. But, the main problem remains. Notwithstanding our achievements, vocational education is still seen as a choice for the “less-academically inclined” — a sugar-coated, politically-correct term — instead of it being career-centred. The moment TVET is sold as a route for those unable to perform academically, the more able students and their parents will immediately shy away from this path. The most needed reform would thus be to appreciate that, as much as STEM is no superior to non-STEM, the academic field is also no superior to TVET.

The two famous Adi Putras in this country — one a Maths genius, the other an actor — are both stars, but they are completely different. The point is, TVET should be made available to all, including the talented. We have to decide whether we want to do a South Korea or a Switzerland. Stop tinkering, because we need a whole new system. The writer is an independent researcher

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/09/technical-training-also-gifted