Ministry: Waning STEM student numbers concerning

Minister Yeo Bee Yin explained that this gradual drop will eventually lead to a lack of talent absorbed into STEM-related industries. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Minister Yeo Bee Yin explained that this gradual drop will eventually lead to a lack of talent absorbed into STEM-related industries. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 27 — The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC) is concerned over a declining trend in students opting for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in schools and higher education institutions (IPT).

Its minister, Yeo Bee Yin explained that this gradual drop will eventually lead to a lack of talent absorbed into STEM-related industries.

According to her, last year, only 44 per cent of students in schools chose STEM streams compared to 48 per cent in 2012.

She also said the number of students at the IPTs who enrolled in fields related to Science, Maths, Computers, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction in 2017 totalled 334,742.

This was much lower when compared to the 570,858 students majoring in Arts and Humanities, Education, Social Sciences, Business and Law.

“We found that among the reasons fewer students were interested in STEM was because they tend to choose subjects that are much easier or they could not see how science can play a role in their lives.

“Our target is to achieve a 60:40 ratio of which 60 percent of students major in STEM,” she told the media after launching the Energy, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (ESTECC) education programme at Sekolah Kebangsaan Putrajaya Presint 16 (2) here today.

Yeo said her ministry had initiated the ESTECC education programme since February to provide more exposure in science for students and to nurture their interests in choosing a career in the field.

She said her ministry is aiming for one million students to get involved in the programme through activities provided by its agencies such as the National Nanotechnology Centre, National Science Centre, National Planetarium and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency as well as private strategic partners.

Yeo said MESTECC had allocated RM3 million to these strategic partners, namely Yayasan Hijau Malaysia, Kidzania Kuala Lumpur and Tech Dome Penang, to implement the ESTECC education programme in schools nationwide between August 1 and December 31.

As of yesterday, a total of 482,091 students from 1,526 schools were directly involved in the programme, she said. — Bernama

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