Shot in the arm for science education in Tamil schools

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PETALING JAYA: Science education in Tamil schools has been given a shot in the arm, thanks to the vision of environmental consultant and education gamechanger Dr Mohamed Yunus Mohamed Yasin. His steely resolve to make a difference led him to organise science fairs for Tamil schools. The Science Fair for Young Children (SFYC), a series of events aimed at promoting science in Tamil schools, has been in place for the past 10 years.

It is organised by the Association of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Asti), a body founded by Dr Mohamed Yunus to help create a positive environment for pupils to explore science. The SFYC involves some 80,000 schoolchildren aged 10 and 11 from 300 Tamil schools nationwide.

“Our kids have won national-level competitions and international ones including in Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, and New York,” said Dr Mohamed Yunus, who holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Recently, five 12-year-olds from SJK(T) Mentakab bagged gold medals at the 2016 International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada (iCAN).

The winners, J. Jayashri Selvendran, Mutu Paramasivam, Darshana Jayasangkar, Puventhiran Jayaraman and Thesiigan C. Selvanayagam, who designed an innovative calorimeter will also be going to Jakarta for another competition after the UPSR later this year.

In March last year, three students from SJK(T) Ramakrishna, Penang, beat 300 international contestants to bring home the first prize at the 35th Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition.

Durgashini Srijayan, Kumurthashri Ponniah and Sugheson Ganeson bagged the gold medal under the Excellent Youth Science Creation category for the eco-friendly thermo container they created.

On October 2014, in London, SJK(T) Kulim’s R. Prevena, V Susheetha and former student R. Rasyikash won the double Gold Award at the British Invention Show for an energy-saving drinks dispensing machine they created.

The SYFC has turned Tamil schools into scientific education powerhouses which provide students with excellent groundwork to excel in science and maths.

Grades for science and maths in UPSR among such schools have also been improving following their participation in the programme.

However, Asti’s slim budget of RM800,000 only allows it to organise 400 school science fairs, about 10 zone-level fairs, and a national fair.

“The budget is rather tight and we have been struggling. We hope more well wishers will come forth and help but more importantly, be involved,” said Dr Mohamed Yunus.

Sourced from: The Star|26 August 2016

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