SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG DURING THE OPENING OF PENANG SCIENCE CAFÉ @ALMA ON 17 DECEMBER 2016
I am very happy to announce today the official launch of Penang Science Café @Alma. This is an effort under the Penang Science Cluster, a strategic initiative of the Penang State Government in collaboration with both industry and academia.
For Penang to continue to grow, we need talented and innovative people in science and technology. As you know, the % and standards of students taking up science in upper Secondary Schools is dropping year by year. This is evident from the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings in 2012 released by The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) on student performance in mathematics, reading, and science, scores for Malaysia over the past decade, where our 15 years old secondary school students performed in the bottom third when ranked with over 70 other countries, even losing to other emerging countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
These 2 trends are very unhealthy as we need scientific and technological talent to grow our companies in Penang and Malaysia. More than that, Penang too needs technopreneurs that can launch new startups and help drive economic growth.
In 2012, Malaysia ranked 52nd out of 65 countries, firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the 65 countries participating. In 2015, Malaysia was not ranked as our survey response rate of 51% did not meet the standard acceptance criteria of 85% required by PISA for meaningful comparisons to other countries or for trend purposes. No explanations have been forthcoming from Malaysia’s Ministry of Education for the low response rate in 2015. In 2012, Malaysia had over 90% response rate.
The Penang State Government realises that if we are to succeed in transforming Penang into an international and intelligent city, we need to grow our manufacturing industry. This requires Penang to be a centre of excellence for science and technology. The PSC was established to make Penang a centre of excellence for science and technology.
PSC successfully launched PenangScienceCafé @Krystal Point in December 2013, a first for Penang, and a first in the country. Our 2nd Science Café and flagship centre in Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, opened on 5th December last year will see 15,000 students attending workshops and building projects. The PenangScienceCafe @Alma will be our 3rd location in Penang, and the first on the mainland. These will teach kids robotics and applied science free of charge. And the teachers are engineers a rare opportunity for all kids.
The Penang State Government hopes to build up Penang as a Centre of Excellence for science and technology in Malaysia. Apart from the RM20 million Penang Science Cafe and the PISF invested by the Penang State Government, there is also the RM28 million Penang Tech Dome, the RM6 million Karpal Singh Learning Centre teaching STEM (Science, Technology, English & Mathematics) but also the RM6 million German Dual Vocational Training (GDVT) – the first German learning whilst working curriculum. We need to build human talent and public infrastructure to help Penang become an international and intelligent city.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Penang Science Cluster and Arus Academy for working together to create something wonderful for our young people in Penang.
LIM GUAN ENG