Tuesday March 3, 2009
Quest for young talent
KUALA LUMPUR: Nine million children aged below 14 will be tested by a local university for their intelligence and creativity under a programme to identify and developed talented youths.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Permata Pintar programme is aimed at cultivating the innate intellectual and creative talents of nine to 15-year-olds so that they can contribute to the country’s growth, said programme patron Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s wife said the programme was the first of its kind in the country and was necessary to prevent more “brain drain”.
“If we don’t harness this important asset, it will be a great loss to the country,” she said at yesterday’s launching ceremony.
She said the National University of Singapore and Thailand’s Mahidol University were years ahead of Malaysia in the structured development of gifted young people.
She said the university was planning to set up a RM20mil school to accommodate 200 gifted students and a working paper would be presented to the Cabinet “as soon as possible”.
Rosmah said details of the school was still being worked out. It would be a proper place where gifted Forms Four and Five students could be exposed to advanced topics in science, mathematics and creative writing.
“Many parents have told us they wish to send their gifted children overseas for proper schooling because there are no such facilities in Malaysia,” she said
Rosmah said there are about 8.9 million children aged under 14, and it was estimated that there was one gifted child per 10,000 children.
The programme’s website www.permatapintar.com.my provides an online test called UKM1 as an initial screening to find 2,000 potential candidates.
Of the number, 300 aged nine to 15 would be shortlisted based on two more tests to be conducted at the university during a two-week intensive summer camp in December.
In the pilot project-cum-holiday camp, the students would be exposed to various advanced academic and creative topics such as robotics, genomics, genetics and modern fantasy writing.
The programme’s tests were developed with help from Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Talented Youth in New York.
The two universities signed a letter of intent at yesterday’s launch to co-operate on developing the curriculum for the planned school.
The document was signed by UKM vice-chancellor Datuk Prof Dr Sharifah Habshah Syed Shahbuddin and the centre’s international programme director, Dr Julian Jones.