KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 – Children must be given equal access to opportunities to develop their talents in preparing them to cope with the future, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. He said that in today’s world driven by science and technology, children must be equipped with the right skills and knowledge that would enable them to fully participate in the innovation process with competence, self-discipline, resilience and care for others.
“And they can only do it if they have the confidence to face the world. We must equip them with the skills to make good choices so that the consequences of their choices are in humanity’s best interests and, therefore, in theirs,” he said in his opening remarks at the Permata International Conference (PIC) 2016 carrying the theme ‘Children Beyond Tomorrow’, here today.
Najib said science and technology have lead to transformation in almost all sectors, such as food production, energy, medicine, environment, and defence and security. Thus, he said, how we use new ideas, new knowledge and new technology would determine whether innovation was at the service of humankind or worked to its detriment.
“As they grow up, our children will be the ones who will confront the results of innovation and put them to the test in the real world. We want them to be able to exercise good judgement, to choose well, and to use them responsibily, while rejecting what is harmful or not worthwhile.
“So, what we do today is critically important for achieving the best results for our children beyond tomorrow. And the preparation for today’s children not only involves education and training, but also leadership, to encourage them to develop transforming visions for, and stewardship of, the world they will inherit,” he added.
Addressing the 1,900 delegates comprising foreign leaders, childhood education experts and advocates attending the three-day conference, Najib said that in Malaysia, the government was supporting children beyond tomorrow by establishing blueprints for science, technology and innovation.
“The government was also coordinating and funding multi-disciplinary research and development priority areas, as well as anticipating scenarios for the future. The government has also launched blueprints for education and higher education, which make clear that science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be integrated with the humanities, social sciences and entrepreneurship in an interdisciplinary manner.
He said these efforts should produce a future workforce that can generate and apply new knowledge and technologies. Najib said that, at the same time, the country’s education system must inculcate fundamental values such as safety, moral responsibility, the advantages of diversity and respect for human dignity among children.