Manyin (right) takes a closer look at one of the students’ projects displayed at an exhibition held in conjunction with the state-level National Science Week 2020. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING: More than 2,000 teachers in Sarawak are expected to start their training to teach Science and Mathematics in English this year, said Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.

He said they will be trained at four teacher training institutes (IPGs) in the state namely IPG Batu Lintang Campus, IPG Tun Abdul Razak Campus in Samarahan, IPG Sarawak Campus in Miri and IPG Rajang Campus in Bintangor.

He added that the ministry was waiting for the IPGs submit their quotation for the training.

“The IPGs have not come up with the confirmed figure but they told me the other day that it is roughly between RM7 million and RM9 million.

“Once we have the money, they can start the training anytime,” he told a press conference after closing the state-level National Science Week 2020 at Chemsain Building here yesterday.

He pointed out that the ministry would also need to look at the capacity of the IPGs.

“If they cannot cope, we may have to engage teachers from IPGs in Peninsular Malaysia.

“This is quite urgent because otherwise our students will be at a disadvantage,” he said.

Manyin stressed that the training of these teachers did not mean that Sarawak has a shortage of Science and Mathematics teachers but many of them taught the subjects although they did not opt to teach them.

“According to the Education Department, more than 2,000 teachers especially those in primary schools, teaching Science and Mathematics subjects was not their option. So we cannot blame them because they are forced to teach these two subjects.

“The problem here is the distribution (of teachers) as we cannot afford to put Science and Mathematics option teachers at every school in the state,” he said.

He said Sarawak has a lot of rural schools and often teachers who were placed at these schools would seek transfer to schools in urban areas after teaching for two to three years.

“One of the reasons why rural schools have poor results is due to the high turnover of teachers. Inexperienced teachers are sent to rural schools and once they have gained the experience they will move to towns.”

Earlier in his speech, Manyin said Sarawak students taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in Form 4 only accounted for less than 25 per cent of the student cohort.

“The target for the whole of Malaysia is 60 per cent to take pure science from Form 4 level onwards. But up to today, there are less than 40 per cent of students taking up the pure science stream whereas Sarawak is less than 25 per cent.

“We are very far behind the target set up by the Ministry of Education,” he said.

He said there was a need to continue to generate interest and awareness among students and parents on the importance of taking up STEM subjects.

“Events such as this National Science Week provides awareness to the public and inculcates an interest of STEM among students and parents,” he said.

The state-level National Science Week 2020, which was organised by the Department of Chemistry Sarawak (Kimia Sarawak), featured a variety of programmes and competitions such s ‘Fotografi Kreatif’, ‘MSNLens Short Video Competition’, and ‘Reka Cipta Video Kreatif.’

Kimia Sarawak and Malaysian Institute of Chemistry Sarawak Branch as strategic partners for the science week had also designed ‘The Young Scientist Programme 2020’ which offers students the opportunity to learn in real workplace setting and foster their interest in science.

The event also introduced a special award called Icon of Sarawak STI National Science Week 2020 which was presented to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Faculty of Resource Science and Technology microbiology professor Prof  Dr Kasing Apun.

Also present were Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation deputy secretary general Dato Parang Abai @ Thomas, Department of Chemistry Malaysia director general Mohamed Zaini Abdul Rahman, and Malaysian Institute of Chemistry Sarawak Branch chairman Dr John Chan Sung Tong.