In March 2019, Malaysia’s Minister of Education, Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, recently partnered with Microsoft’s STEM4ALL initiative to provide a higher level of STEM education in Malaysia. STEM4ALL stays true to its name, targeting all students across the country equally to encourage interest in STEM fields and ensure graduates possess a wide span of technological information to take into future careers.
Malaysia’s Current Educational System
In 2018, Malaysia had 9,404 children under the age of 18, which is 29 percent of the total population in 2018. Out of those children, 2,565 of them are under the age of five when many children are starting pre-school or kindergarten. Pre-school is not compulsory in Malaysia, but it is available.
Malaysia currently has six years of primary compulsory education, from ages six to 12. Secondary education is not compulsory as of 2018. Primary enrollment had increased from 2,770,340 to 2,795,058 between 2015 to 2017. Unfortunately, primary school enrollment rates dropped to 2,693,318 students enrolled in 2018. Secondary enrollment in 2018 was lower at 2,041,798 students.
Microsoft has been known for assisting educational programs throughout South Asia within recent years with notable programs in India and Sri Lanka. STEM4ALL is Microsoft’s latest venture to emphasize STEM education throughout primary and secondary schools around the country. The campaign targets students, parents, educators and lawmakers around the country to put STEM education at the forefront of school materials to keep up with the current demand in technological field advancements.
The program encourages after-school STEM programs in multiple schools around Malaysia, impacting an estimated 100,000 students. Microsoft’s campaign is working to target all students regardless of social situations. STEM4ALL is meant to reach both urban and rural school areas to improve education in Malaysia overall. The program hosted a panel to discuss Malaysian STEM education and discussed the impact of AI on the educational and workforce environments throughout the country.
Key Events from the STEM4ALL Conference
The panel discussion, hosted by the Prime Minister of Education, included two prominent students in the world of technological advancements. The two students were Serena Zara Taufiq, the CEO of an outreach for children with autism called ‘Serena’s Secrets,’ and Chloe Soh Ke Er, who debuted her latest robot to help with agricultural management at the conference.
The conference focused on the recent impact of AI and technology on future job environments. Artificial Intelligence is shaping career paths around the world, and Microsoft is working to ensure that all students are gaining an efficient skillset to keep up with technology changes. Using new technologies will also improve learning techniques through classrooms in Malaysia.
Microsoft School Partnerships
Microsoft recently began funding the AI Business School for current business leaders throughout Malaysia. The classes will infuse more technological skills into the current business world to keep up with changes in current job markets. Students who succeed in the STEM classes will have more opportunities in the business world to use their education.
Through STEM4ALL, Microsoft has also partnered with Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka as a pilot school for the ‘Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science Curriculum’ (MPP). This is the largest version of the MPP program in the educational world. MPP is starting with 250 students to gain Microsoft data science certifications and improve the overall quality of education in Malaysia. The program’s goals align with the national goal to educate 20,000 data scientists by 2020.
Microsoft’s STEM4ALL campaign is expected to have a massive impact on the students of Malaysia. The campaign impacts all students regardless of major and education track. It ensures that proper technological knowledge is embedded in school systems across the country. The program will also ensure that education in Malaysia is adapting positively with the ever-changing technological environment in the workforce inside and outside the country’s borders.
– Kristen E. Bastin