A plug on leaving school prematurely

Programme for teachers to encourage school leavers to pursue further

KUCHING: A special programme for teachers in schools state-wide will be launched soon with an aim to encourage school leavers to pursue tertiary education.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Ministers Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah said the programme, being planned by the Human Resource Development for School Leavers Council and the Education Department, would be carried out in stages before June 12.

The programme was meant to equip teachers with the latest and necessary information about the outlook of tertiary education and what had been made available to students throughout the state, she said.

We will tell teachers how to apply for scholarships and then they will counsel students. Information on the economic scenario will also be disseminated to enable teachers to encourage students to further their studies.

When it will be launched, I cannot tell since we are still working on the details. As only 40 per cent of school leavers further their studies, we feel it is essential to reach out to the remaining 60 per cent, she told reporters after launching the University College Sedaya International (UCSI)-Borneo Post (BP) Living Sciences column and scholarship programme at the new UCSI campus in Jalan Tun Jugah here yesterday.

Fatimah, also Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Home Economics and Training), pointed out that it was imperative to place emphasis on skills training development particularly following the launching of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which required about 1.6 million skilled workers by 2020.

Thats why we are concerned about the other 60 per cent (of school leavers). If we look at SCORE, there are a lot of employment opportunities and we need skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

She felt that Sarawakians should stop giving excuses like not being aware of the tertiary education chances and parents complaining of high education costs.

There are many higher learning institutes around and the government has launched several programmes to reach out to all communities about opportunities and assistance provided for the needy families.

A lot of chances, physical facilities and financial assistance are being offered and the people still say they dont know or they cannot afford the fees, she said, adding that Yayasan Sarawak and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) had done their part to help school leavers.

To be competitive globally, she said the people must be well educated, technology savvy, willing to learn and relearn besides having a high sense of commitment and integrity in order to get the right job.

Fatimah was pleased that The Borneo Post and UCSI had launched a weekly column Living Sciences, in line with the governments aspirations of achieving a 60:40 ratio for science to arts stream students by 2010.

At the moment, the ratio is 40:60 (science to arts stream). So stakeholders have to work real hard to achieve the desired target. Facilities, teacher recruitment and training, and delivery system in classrooms need to be further improved.

Asserting that there was greater need to heighten interest in matters related to science, environment and technology among students, parents and the people at large, newspapers were an ideal tool towards this end, she said. Education and lifelong learning for capacity building could take place both through formal learning institutions as well as newspaper-reading, which almost everyone could afford, she said.

Reading quality articles that provide authentic information and knowledge provided by reputable researchers will not only enrich our knowledge and increase our intellectual capacity but also broaden our perspective, she said.

Fatimah also urged researchers to tap into biodiversity, which the state was rich in but a wealth of knowledge about the field had yet to be discovered.

As such, she thanked UCSI for setting up a RM350,000 scholarship fund at the campus here to help deserving students in the state.

This will enable many students in Sarawak to further their education in the sciences, especially biotechnology and food sciences or nutrition, she said, adding that the collaboration between BP and UCSI would help contribute towards a better quality of life for the people.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Ministers Department (Economic Planning) Larry Sng, UCSI group president and vice chancellor Peter Ng, BP general operations manager Phyllis Wong and editor-in-chief

M Rajah, and BPs sister paper See Hua Daily News Kuching news manager Chia Chew Boon were among those present at the launching ceremony.