Malaysia to Focus on STEM Education Investment to Spur Economy


Malaysia’s deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin visited the International Bureau of Education of UNESCO in Geneva to present his country’s Higher Education Blueprint and contributed $300,000 for IBE’s program called “Strengthening STEM for Girls in Africa and Asia Pacific.

During his trip to Geneva and the IBE-UNESCO offices, the deputy Prime Minister presented his country’s experience and views in “The Role of STEM in Fostering Sustainable Development – The Malaysian Experience”. Muhyiddin argued that bringing more young people into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is key to transforming Malaysia into a high-income, advanced nation by 2020.

Muhyiddin, who’s also the Education Minister, says it’s time for Malaysia to harness the skills and knowledge of STEM if its to remain and further advance its social and economic development.

Malaysia is bidding for a UNESCO executive board seat for the 2015-2019 term and to facilitate this goal, the country provides financial support to UNESCO’S Strengthening STEM for Girls In Africa and Asia Pacific, Zaidi Isham Ismail for the New Strait Times says.

The deputy prime minister says that although Malaysia has been able to move from an agriculture-based economy to a resource and manufacturing-based one, the country did not manage to keep up with other countries’ galloping growth.

Countries that have begun their economy transformation around the same time as Malaysia managed to advanced much further. The deputy Prime Minister blamed this lag on his country’s lighter emphasis on investment in STEM knowledge and innovation.

“It is obviously evident that these countries had made full use of STEM to boost their fortunes,” Muhyiddin said announcing his country’s new focus on STEM support and growth.

Malaysia will have its economic growth model based on harnessing knowledge and innovation so that the country can advance. The deputy Prime Minister talked of the country’s goals for the next five years:

“A strategy comprising [of] a series of actionable plans must be able to support the production rates needed for generating skilled STEM human capital at two levels, namely secondary schools and tertiary institutions, to achieve the target of 500,000 STEM graduates by 2020,” he said.

One of the missions of Malaysia is to get young students and especially boys to love science and become more keen in taking science related classes, the deputy prime minister said. To achieve this goal Muhyiddin says will need to make STEM easier to understand, more appealing and more “hands-on and exploratory” to pique students’ interest in STEM careers.

Dr. Marope Mmantsetsan, IBE director, extolled Malaysia “for always being in the forefront of initiatives under Unesco and its agencies,” The Sun Daily says.