Give students a head start in IT
The Borneo Post - Sunday, 27 October, 2002
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KUCHING: More professionals will have to be involved in evolving an information technology (IT) environment conducive for students who are the hopes the State in bring about an IT-strong society.

Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud said the development of information technology (IT) in Sarawak was still seriously wanting, thereby posing a grave concern of the State's ability in achieving the status of a K­economy by 2020.

While proficiency in IT had been targeted at the younger generation, the provision and setting-up of computer system in many schools, particularly in the rural areas, was highly disappointing, falling way off the mark, he said.

He made these remarks at the State Planning Unit 30th anniversary cocktail and dinner gathering held at a leading hotel here Friday night.

Taib stressed that educationists had to start somewhere to ensure computer literacy among children suggesting that they looked at some schools in the Mukah division, which were now well equipped with software and prepared for IT learning.

He added that while many private institutes were believed to be willing to support to ensure success in such programmes, the essence was to kick it off early, including using the English language to teach sciences and mathematics in schools.

"To my mind, the success of any effective change to human resource development has to be initiated as soon as possible, even at the pre­school level," he said, adding that educationists should come up with a framework early to set in operation the process of producing more science- stream students.

He believed that in this way young children would be appropriately equipped to meet the country's manpower requirement in a decade of two in line with the aspiration of the state. By so doing, the state would be assured of enough supply of the right personnel needed in the various sectors and disciplines including the commercialisation of agriculture, he said.

Pointing out that biotechnology was a discipline of increasing impor­tance today, Taib projected that the state would need many engineers, chemists and biologists for exploiting its potential in this area.

He said although it had been pointed out that Sarawak should produce some 10,000 engineers by 2010, a more realistic figure would be 7,000.

The State government was now in the process of working on measures to increase the number of engineers and scientists to meet the future demands of the state, he added.

The State Secretary, Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain and his deputy, Datu Wilson Baya Dandot also spoke at the function.

Among those present were Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Alfred Jabu, Tourism minister, Dato Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, and Assistant Minister for Planning and Resource Management, Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.