THE OPENING CEREMONY OF TADIKA WHYTEHOUSE
SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF TADIKA WHYTEHOUSE
@TECH DOME PENANG
21 SEPTEMBER 2020
YB Chong Eng
Penang State Executive Councilor for Social Development & Non-Islamic Religious Affair
Dr Khong Yoon Loong
CEO – Tech Dome Penang
Mr Jery Yeoh
Founder & Executive Director – Whytehouse Education Group
Ms Tan Huey Miin
Co - Founder WhyteHouse Education Group
Ms Catherine Fong
Director - WhyteHouse Education Group
Board Members of Penang Tech Centre Bhd & Advisory Council of Tech Dome Penang.
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
A very good afternoon to all of you.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Tech Dome Penang and Whytehouse Education Group on this excellent initiative to bring the first kindergarten to a science centre in Malaysia.
It is a known scientific fact that the brain develops the fastest in the first five to six years of a person’s life. So, what happens in these early years have a big influence on the later development of a person. The lessons learnt and the interests developed during the pre-school years have a great influence on the subsequent life choices the child makes. Therefore, Tech Dome’s initiative to setup this special STEM Tadika is quite revolutionary as it introduces the process of scientific thought in the early stages of a child’s life.
I understand that as part of this initiative, Dr. Khong, an experienced physicist and educationist has taken it upon himself to work and develop a special pre-school STEM curriculum with Whythouse, an established pre-school with 10 years of experience under its belt and 5 centres with over 200 children in the Island and Mainland. With the solid science and pre-school education expertise behind this initiative, I am glad that Penang will be leading the way for this special and unique pre-school education.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank Whytehouse, for offering its program and expertise in this Tadika at Tech Dome Penang, and for offering half of the regular fees while waiving other fee components to all government servants so that they can benefit from the quality programs run at other Whytehouse kindergartens. This will indeed be a great help for parents, especially in these difficult times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The vision of Penang2030 under this present administration is to have “A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation”. I must say, this initiative of a STEM Tadika here is aligned with this vision. Through the social development portfolio of YB Chong Eng and one of its agencies, the Penang’s Women Development Corporation, the Penang State government has strongly encouraged this initiative.
Penang2030 cannot be achieved without the consideration of how our young are brought up. How we educate our children will shape the future. All our programmes and initiatives stemming from our vision and strategies will fall apart in the future if there is a lack of capable next generation to takeover. It will be a big mistake for any administration to focus solely on the immediate issues of the state or country, without paying attention to the preparation of the young for the future. After all, if we do want a better future, we must make the effort and start investing in those who will create it.
In the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses the educational achievement of students at 15 years of age, Malaysia ranks at bottom 30% in reading and bottom 40% in mathematics and science out of 77, 78 and 79 countries, respectively. As it is now, the data from the Ministry of Education shows that slightly less than 20% of our form 4 and 5 students are in the science stream. Such data should be a warning sign and does not bode well for the future of Malaysia unless there are clear policies and concerted effort to address the issue. We, as a State Government certainly take this very seriously.
Apart from the intellectual development, our education system will also decide if we will have united or polarized communities in our state and country. Our education system will determine if our country will have people and leaders with integrity and moral values, or rife with corruption and injustice.
In front of us today are the little children, so easy to ignore as they are little. But these are the tiny seeds we plant today that will grow into giant trees. What kind of tress will they be in 20 years down the road you may wonder? Well, that is entirely up to us, the parent, educators and in fact everybody. Our fervent hope is that they grow into useful and fruitful trees. Indeed, in them lies the hope of our nation.
With that being said, I would like to once again congratulate Tech Dome Penang and Whytehouse Education. I believe this Tadika will give the children a great head-start on their education journey and develop a scientific mind from a young age. I hope to see many more little feet in the years to come. And who knows, among these little feet will be scientists, industry captains and maybe even the next chief minister and prime minister of Malaysia.