August 28, 2015

UNESCO Malaysia Day Highlights Developmental Objectives

UNESCO Malaysia Day Highlights Developmental Objectives

Dataran Merdeka Square by Phalinn Ooi @flickr

This year’s annual Malaysia UNESCO day was recently held in Dataran Merdeka, an iconic square in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The theme was “Togetherness,” and the celebration was in part a reminder of all Unesco’s efforts in Malaysia.

Malaysia UNESCO day, more commonly known as Hari Unesco Malaysia, became an official annual celebration in 2010. The occasion heralds the rich relationship between Unesco and Malaysia, and promotes Unesco Malaysia’s objectives: ensuring sustainable development, eradicating poverty, promoting intercultural dialogue and maintaining peace.

Unesco and Malaysia are forging towards those objectives together, as evidenced by important recent events.

A conference targeting youth unemployment, skills gaps and gender disparities in Malaysia was just held in early August. The three-day event, attended by over 1,000 people, focused on solving the problem of Asia-Pacific’s 220 million unemployed youths – many of whom are out of school and have no formal training. If Malaysia is to become a fully developed nation practicing sustainable business, environmental conservation and enjoying good community health, it must connect its youth to the jobs being created locally.

According to Malaysian Minister of Education Mahdzir bin Khalid and Unesco Bangkok Director Gwang-Jo Kim, part of the solution lies in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Often ignored in favor of traditional university education, TVET training could quickly close the gap between the skills Malaysian youth possess and the ones required by available jobs. The conference renewed Malaysian officials’ conviction to develop more TVET programs – a task that will be undertaken with vigor.

Another recent conference centered on harnessing the overlooked talent and skill of women in the Malaysian scientific community. Organized by the Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation (and underwritten by UNESCO ISTIC), the event called together women professors, policy advisors, chiefs of private and public institutes in order to devise ways to involve more Malaysian women in science, technology and engineering.

The event spoke to Malaysia’s – and the world’s – need for more and better scientific innovation. If Malaysia can break down the barriers between women and scientific achievement, it will greatly further its progress towards becoming a technologically-advanced hub of sustainability.

A call for more investment in training, the appointment of more women science teachers, and the advent of more mentors and inspirational female models was made, and the call was heard by UNESCO ISTIC chairman Dato’ Lee Yee Cheong. He announced his goal to strive for more female involvement in science and to institutionalize the conference by holding it every two years.

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