Collaboration key to relevant education in Industry 4.0
By Anushia Kandasivam November 16, 2017
- New methods of teaching and learning vital for sustained economic growth
- Ability to communicate understanding as important as thinking skills
“WHEN we talk about the digital economy, we cannot ignore the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As it unfolds, how do we prepare ourselves for the future? How do we plan for our children in a way that is relevant to Industry 4.0?”
These questions were posed by Malaysian Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid (pic) at BETT Asia 2017 on Nov 15. The two-day conference was themed Cultivating Global Collaboration in Education, which Mahdzir said was consistent with the ministry’s objective of gaining more innovative and less traditional ways of teaching and learning through collaboration.
There is a great need for new methods of teaching and learning because the accelerated pace of technological development in the new millennium demands an education system that has a focus beyond just examinations and discipline.
The Malaysian education system is a legacy from the 1970s when, Mahdzir said, the system placed heavy emphasis on values, especially values of social cohesion and producing disciplined and hardworking workers to contribute to the rapid economic growth Malaysia was experiencing at the time.
“We must widen the focus of our education system beyond examinations and discipline, reconceptualise teaching and learning to maximise positive social transformation and innovation,” he said.
A consistent theme when talking about Industry 4.0 is potential job loss and creation. Mahdzir referred to studies that suggest that 65% of children in primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist.
This is why students should be given the opportunity to apply their learning experience in ways that are relevant to their future, he said. In addition to digital literacy, education should give learners the understanding of how to apply and innovate technology. This is where collaboration comes in, playing a pertinent role in ensuring learning is meaningful.
The minister referred to the #mydigitalmaker programme, a public-private-academia initiative to equip Malaysian youth with skills that will turn them from digital users to producers in the digital economy.
One of the programme’s aims is to integrate computational thinking and computer science into the national curriculum. Another is to cultivate more student interest and skills in STEM subjects (science, technology, mathematics).
The #mydigitalmaker programme has seen some of its students successfully produce innovative digital technologies. “These young talents proved that given the opportunities and with the appropriate learning environment, they can innovate and create with technology,” said Mahdzir.
He added that STEM education plays an important role in a developing country such as Malaysia, which is why the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2017-2025 places emphasis on raising awareness of STEM education among teachers and students, and efforts are already underway to train teachers and strengthen their thinking skills and STEM content knowledge.
The education ministry’s collaboration with the British Council Malaysia, modern science and technology museum Petrosains and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) resulted in School Lab, a competition that helps students understand and appreciate the challenges of science.
School Lab is specifically a science communication competition for lower secondary school students aimed at developing the confidence and skills required to present and demonstrate an understanding of scientific concepts.
The minister also said that TVET (technical and vocational education and training) is another key driver of digital economic growth. “Education institutes and colleges need to be forward-looking to react to changing requirement by developing and adjusting TVET according to industry needs.
“Therefore, support and co-operation with the business sector is the most promising way to develop relevant training programmes with the latest technology.”
The ministry is itself promoting efforts in TVET through its Upper Secondary Industry Apprenticeship programme (known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym PIMA), targeting 10% of the 2,000 secondary schools across the country. In this programme, which was first implemented in 2012, students in the final two years of secondary schools who wish to undergo vocational training will spend two days in school and three days in skills training.
Mahdzir called for strong private-public partnerships with the education sector, saying that this would ensure sustainability in creating citizens with the relevant skills and talents for the future.
“Educationists, academicians, policy makers and practitioners must be ready to reshape the education system and curriculum to meet future needs,” he said.
“As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, so let us put aside matters of profit and place emphasis on how to contribute to education, especially to help children in remote areas and marginalised communities.”
As for how to prepare and plan for the future, he said there is no definitive answer. “But we must ensure that the evolving future needs of our children are articulated in our education system.”