KUALA LUMPUR, The government's initiative in allocating RM100 million for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education through Budget 2024 reflects its commitment to addressing the importance of mastering STEM in the country currently.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Aminuddin Awang said they also supported the establishment of a cross-ministerial STEM Special Committee to set targets and measures to increase participation in STEM among high school students.
"There is no doubt we are now facing a shortage where not many students are keen on entering the STEM stream. The establishment of this committee is one of the most effective measures towards advancing the nation's STEM.
"This shows the government is very serious about boosting the students' interest in STEM, in line with the government's goal of ensuring STEM can be more attractive and capable of being turned into the main medium for driving the nation's progress,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
On Friday (Oct 13), during the tabling of Budget 2024, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government is allocating RM100 million for the maintenance and upgrading of school computer labs and procurement of new equipment for the learning of STEM.
However, Aminudin feels that the allocation is insufficient to ensure that the computer lab, which is an important foundation for the digitisation of national education, can play its role effectively.
On the RM100 million allocation through the Karamah Insaniah (human dignity) initiative in helping students who dropped out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said although the NUTP did not expect the package to be announced all at once, it would give its full support so that no one is left behind in learning.
"We do have a lost generation due to COVID-19, and these measures can restore that generation. At the school level, teachers are striving with their own methods to restore this generation and this is a huge challenge,” he said.
Echoing his sentiments is National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council (PIBGN) president Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan, who said that the Karamah Insaniah initiative must be expedited to prevent more students from dropping out and not wanting to continue studying.
He hoped that the RM180 million allocation for the construction of 18 new special needs education blocks, including RM30 million set aside for special educational support equipment and facilities in schools, would not be focused on areas in major cities only.
"Initiatives like motivating and training those teaching special needs children must also be considered. This includes their (the special needs children) right to get quality lifelong education, irrespective of religion and race,” he said.
On the RM2.4 billion provided for the construction, maintenance and refurbishment of civil servant quarters, including teachers, Mohamad Ali said the effort must be fully carried out to ensure teachers have comfortable and quality residences.
"It is hoped that once these residences have been repaired, the maintenance costs will always be provided and not only when necessary. In addition, uninhabited teachers’ houses must be utilised as best possible and not left unattended for long periods,” he said.
According to him, although Budget 2024 can ensure quality education, he was slightly disappointed with there being no continuity in initiatives to dignify Bahasa Melayu and English at the school level.
Anwar also announced that the Education Ministry will be allocated RM58.7 billion compared to RM55.2 billion this year when tabling Budget 2024 in Parliament.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency