Transforming Malaysia’s education system with STEM4ALL and Artificial Intelligence

 |   Sugriiva Paramasivam

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  • The Ministry of Education and Microsoft Malaysia partner to advance STEM education in Malaysia with STEM4ALL, an initiative that aims to transform the education industry in Malaysia
  • It is important to equip the future workforce to adapt to technology advancements like AI. According to Microsoft’s Study on Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI, the rate of  innovation Malaysia will be doubled by 2021
  • As part of the Ministry’s efforts to enhance STEM education, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka was chosen to pilot the ‘Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science Curriculum’ (MPP), making it the largest MPP curriculum to have ever been rolled out in the education world

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 March 2019 – Ministry of Education in partnership with Microsoft (Malaysia) today launched the STEM4ALL campaign, an education initiative that aims to bring together parents, educators, students, and policymakers towards advancing STEM education for all Malaysians.

STEM4ALL aims to transform the education industry in Malaysia by promoting STEM education among Malaysians and ensuring our graduates are equipped with right skill set to drive their employability in this digital age. The campaign provides vision and direction to one of the goals under the Malaysia Education Blueprint, that is to enhance STEM education in the country.

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(From L to R) YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education, Serena Zara Taufiq, CEO of Serena’s Secret, Chloe Soh Ke Er, robotics enthusiast and Dr. Jasmine Begum, Director of Legal, Corporate & Government Affairs for Microsoft Malaysia & New Markets in a panel discussion during the STEM4ALL launch, moderated by the minister himself.

The jobs of today will not be the jobs of tomorrow. Technology advancements happening all around us require the workforce to transform itself into the skilled and talented learners that the future needs and the STEM4ALL is a key campaign in the Ministry’s efforts to futureproof our workforce. The launch ceremony was graced by YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education in conjunction with Bett Asia 2019, the world’s largest education summit

The highlight at the event was not only the Minister himself but also two talented students, who had been invited to join a panel session with the Minister (image above):

  • Serena Zara Taufiq, aged 10, a Super CEO of a social enterprise called ‘Serena’s Secrets’ that aims to raise funds for youth with autism. She is also an accessibility advocate and advisor for the National Autism Society of Malaysia.
  • Chloe Soh Ke Er, aged 10, a robotics enthusiast and creator. During the event, Chloe did a demonstration of one of her creations, an agricultural robot that is designed to help with soil management. Together with her team, she interviewed farmers, collected information and developed a robot that can help farmers and combat climate change.
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YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education (left) receiving a copy of ‘The Future Computed’ from K. Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia (right) along with Datuk Dr. Mohd. Gazali Abas, Secretary General of the Ministry of Education (center) during the STEM4ALL launch.

“Digital skills are a passport to new opportunities for millions of citizens and a building block to attract investment, innovation and new jobs in a global economy,” said YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education Malaysia. “To be competitive in today’s digital-first world, it is imperative to be fast adopters of best-in-class technology, including AI. In fact, according to a study by Microsoft, over 67% of our business leaders also feel that technologies like AI will augment the jobs of tomorrow and will enhance the workforce productivity. STEM4ALL aims to equip the future workforce to adapt to advancements in such technologies and increase their employability by develop these skills and navigating their learning in line with requirements of digital age.”

With advances in technology like AI, today’s kindergarteners need new skills to be life-ready by the time they graduate as the class of 2030. STEM4ALL campaign also focuses on how technology support the educational journey of our students.

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Chloe Soh Ke Er with her invention, an agricultural robot named Farmerbot.

Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia added, “It is increasingly harder to imagine a job that is untouched by technology. We often hear that more than half of today’s primary school students will perform jobs that have not been invented yet. This is the reality of the digital age we live in and through the STEM4ALL campaign, we hope to shed light on how STEM education can help pave the way for future generations. We are proud to be working closely with the Ministry of Education to help make STEM education possible for all.”

Cognizant of the fact that the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will bring forth a shift in the skills demanded in the future, Microsoft’s efforts are aligned to equip educators with technology and skills that are capable of delivering 21st century learning. Its recent study with IDC titled “Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI” analyses the impact of AI on future skills of our workforce.

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YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education (center) inspects a Microsoft newspaper pullout during the STEM4ALL launch.

“AI is undoubtedly a game-changer in this digital world,” adds Raman. “According to our study, 64% of Malaysian workforce feel that AI will augment their work. This indicates that our society is prepared to embrace AI technology and that the onus falls on organisations to do their part in preparing this future workforce, providing them with the right training to ensure that they are not left behind.”

In line with the theme for Bett Asia this year, “Building a change culture to deliver 21st century learning”, the primary objective of the STEM4ALL campaign is to build a culture of inclusivity among all Malaysians when it comes to STEM education, which in turn will help enhance the quality of STEM education in Malaysia.

“Through this campaign, we want to ensure that STEM education is ‘for all’, regardless of background or whether a student decides to pursue a non-STEM profession,” added Maszlee. “We are glad to partner with Microsoft, that has been at the forefront of technology-driven innovation and together with them, we look forward to honing our education system to embrace the shift in technology and embrace new ways of thinking about skills and training.”

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The Ministry of Education along with members of Microsoft and guest panel speakers during the STEM4ALL launch.

In furtherance of their efforts under the STEM4ALL campaign, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) was chosen by the Ministry of Education to pilot the ‘Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science Curriculum’ (MPP). The execution of this curriculum in UTeM also makes it the largest MPP curriculum to have ever been rolled out in the education world, with over 250 students from the first batch to go through the curriculum and to receive data science certificates from Microsoft. This effort is also in line with our nation’s vision to produce 20,000 data scientists by the year 2020.

In order to promote education in the realm of AI, Microsoft also recently launched their AI Business School, an engaging master class series for business leaders that is focused on leadership in the age of AI. This groundbreaking school aims to empower business leaders to be successful by leveraging the power of AI as well as foster an “AI Ready” culture.

Top image: YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education (center) coding on Minecraft during the STEM4ALL launch in Kuala Lumpur on the 12th of March 2019.