Thank you for taking time to attend the first Protem Penang Science Council meeting. The Penang state government has decided to take a step forward in setting up the Penang Science Council due to the shortages faced by the industry in terms of experienced and qualified electrical engineers. From the state government’s perspective, the state has been successful in attracting many R&D and high-tech industries into Penang and there is an urgent need to recalibrate our education agenda. Therefore, we are not only addressing the short term issues at hand but also the long-term issues which will eventually shape the industry in Penang.
When I announced this initiative in December last year, many academicians and industry captains expressed interest to play a part in this council. The main objective of the Penang Science Council is to encourage more young children and young adults to be innovative and creative in the area of Science. We intend to start with young minds, to inculcate a healthy interest in science subjects by organizing quiz and science related competition so that they will start to learn sciences via innovative methods.
Here, the Science Council wants to promote awareness of the contribution of professional scientists to science and society. Also, the council wishes to help advance science education and increased understanding of the benefits of science. We believe that the council will support innovative and entrepreneurial students as they progress and enter into careers in the province’s advanced technology industries. From primary through secondary school to post-secondary education, support must be given to students in the main phases and transition points of their education.
The Penang Science Council will also deal with shortage of engineers and those in science disciplines, vital for our future growth and transformation into a creative, innovative an knowledge-intensive and high-income economy.
At this juncture, these are the strategies of the Penang Council:
(a). Foster cooperation amongst member bodies in driving more in the young children and young adult in the field of science and technology
(b). Influencing science and technology subject matters in the following manner –
1. Raising awareness amongst key stakeholders of the inter-disciplinary nature of science.
2. Enabling and championing the inputs of individual member organizations.
3. Being the contact point for the government and others to reach out to the wider science community
4. Providing a forum for the dynamic exchanges between the communities in the science council.
(c). The council will also assist to advance science professionally by –
1. Increasing the engagement role of the scientists with society and raising public awareness of their roles and contributions to the society.
2. Assisting professional bodies and industry players to advance the scientific knowledge
3. Allowing the best practices within the academics and industry players to be shared in advancing scientific knowledge
(d). Promote, enhancement in the level and quality of science education, knowledge and skills in Penang –
1. Promoting innovative learning activities other than the conventional learning methods of science to young children and young adults
2. Communicating the benefits of having careers in the sciences through career talks done by key industry players and academicians
3. Encourage and stimulate knowledge transfer by developing of collective approaches to the needs of society and the economy.
(e). Establish and develop international links with scientific communities throughout the world to reach out, network and build contacts that can promote understanding and exchange to foster participations and engagement as a tool for the advancement of people’s welfare.
In the longer term, we hope that the council will play a critical role in addressing the shortages of talented engineers and those in science disciplines, vital for our future growth and transformation into a creative, innovative an knowledge-intensive and high-income economy. The Penang Science Council will meet regularly and we are hopeful that some of these meetings will drive more activities and proposals to do programs that reach out to the right target audience.
For instance, industry driven programs such as Agilent after School program, NI’s Robotics Championship, are some of the successful industry programs that have touched many young children and young adults in Penang. We believe that more can be done from the state government’s level through collaboration with the academics and industry. Such collaboration will touch and inspire many young children to cultivate more interest in the field of science and technology.
We also want to provide retraining and upgrading centers for mature professionals and university students. Through the involvement of the existing industry, science learnt in schools is not a mere academic exercise but can be applicable, practical and commercially rewarding.
I hope this protem Penang Science Council will be formalized soon and immediately start to formulate short term and long term goals for this science council. We hope council members will take the opportunity to drive more focus to achieve the vision of having a state with a society that is highly educated and trained as well as appreciate the knowledge of science and technology.
It is the state government’s hope that Penang will lead other states in setting a model for them to follow in this initiative. We believe innovation is an important element in the learning of sciences and technologies. Many MNCs in Penang need to diversify and compete with their fellow colleagues from Korea and Taiwan. Hence, we hope the science council will create an innovation zone in this state where science and technology will prosper.
Science and Technology are important subjects for young children and young adults to excel in if Malaysia wants to achieve a developed nation status by 2020. Science and technology are fundamental forces behind economic development in industrialized countries. In Malaysia, there are reports on performance in science learning; especially those that highlighted students’ lack of interest as well as declining ability to do sciences parked much concern about the ability to achieve the targeted goals.
According to a report from the EPU in 2006, the enrolment in the sciences as compared to the art stream at higher secondary level is less than the expected 60:40 percent ratio. In Penang for instance, Chung Ling High School far surpasses this policy with almost 90% of its 3000 over students taking up science subjects in schools. As for SMJK Heng Ee, the school has well over 3000 students and has 45% in the science stream. Convent Pulau Tikus has well over 600 students and it has 10% students studying the sciences subject. I believe the realization of the importance of science subjects for future manpower provision has encouraged schools to have more science students as well as sufficient teaching staff to teach students. In 2006, the number of secondary teachers in Penang was 7398 but the number has declined to 7250 in 2008. This trend may have impacted good teaching staff needed to drive the teaching of science subjects.
Here, The Penang state government recognizes the challenges in terms of strong human capital and we need to path the way forward to look for newer solutions that will generate better results. Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” With the participation of industry captains and academicians in this council, the Penang state government is confident that they will come into the council with their proven and tested methods to drive the science and technology studies amongst the young children and young adults.
A mark of good leadership is not merely the ability to show a better performance than others but that room and opportunity is offered for others to perform better than the leaders. Similarly to fulfill the promise of youth, we do not just build the future for our youth, but we must build our youth for the future. This is the promise Penang will try to accomplish to build not only a more desirable Penang but equip our youth with the capacity and ability to face the future.
Once again, I wish to thank all participants who are here today for their presence in this first protem Penang Science Council meeting. I hope that all members will use this opportunity to share their inputs for the betterment learning of science and technology in the state.
Opening Remarks by YAB Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang at the Protem Penang Science Council Meeting on 25 January 2010 at 11 am, Komtar