SMJK Council calls on UTAR

One hundred and sixty secondary school principals and representatives from the SMJK Council (Majlis Pengetua Sekolah-Sekolah Menengah Conforming Malaysia) called on UTAR Kampar Campus on 18 April 2017.

Led by the council’s chairman-cum-SMJK Chio Min principal Tan Teik Seong and organising chairperson-cum-SMJK Nan Hwa principal Ng Aik Geen, the delegation was received by UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei and Division of Programme Promotion Director Lee Choy Fong. Also present was Chairman of ACCCIM’s Science, Technology and Innovations Committee Chairman Datuk Ir Hong Lee Pee who, along with Prof Lee, delivered talks highlighting the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) education.

Introducing UTAR as a young not-for-profit private university, Prof Lee recorded his appreciation to all parties who have helped the university directly or indirectly in cementing its position as a top-ranked university in the recent Times Higher Education World University Ranking. He also expressed his delight in meeting the educators to discuss the reasons behind students’ lack of interests in STEM subjects in recent years and understand the challenges.

While speaking about the importance of STEM education, Datuk Hong mentioned the worrying state of students’ current disinterest in STEM subjects and that in the future, 80% of our jobs will be related to STEM knowledge and skills. He also pointed out that teachers should encourage students’ interests in STEM as learning these subjects will effectively help students to develop their skills in logical reasoning, creativity and innovation. Datuk Hong also gave real life examples of the C-suites in the banking and finance industry requiring basic and adequate background knowledge and understanding in STEM. According to him, the STEM knowledge proved to be of great help in approving and auditing loans related to construction, R&D and others.

“Since 2014, UTAR has been working closely with the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) in promoting STEM education. This is especially so through the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair (KLESF) which has also been receiving plenty of support from schools,” Datuk Hong added, and encouraged the principals to let their students discover their interests in STEM at the upcoming KLESF 2017 in November.

Prof Lee (left) speaking during the dialogue session while Datuk Hong (right) looks on.

Prof Lee also shared his insights in the relevance of STEM by introducing the past and present industrial revolutions and how STEM education is needed to impact the world, thus further reflecting its indubitable importance. He explained, “Through STEM education, the teachers are able to raise the students’ awareness of contributing to the progress and development of the society, nation and the world. I always encourage teachers and students to learn from one another because as time changes, the way we learn and acquire knowledge is also different.” Prof Lee then invited the principals and their schools to also attend the Asian Science Camp 2017 in August where Noble Laureates, prominent scientists and speakers will be delivering insightful STEM lectures.

The talk was followed by a dialogue whereby both Prof Lee and Datuk Lee interacted with the principals to discover pressing issues related to STEM teaching and learning in schools. The visit subsequently concluded with a tour around the award-winning campus.

UTAR has been at the forefront of promoting STEM education by partnering with AAET, MIGHT, and IEM. Among the various initiatives to promote STEM interests among schoolchildren include KLESF, the KLESF Mentorship Programme, and the KLESF Mentorship Development Programme.

The delegates sharing their thoughts and views during the dialogue session.

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