Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said education is one of the vital primary drivers in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) as the nation strives towards a high-income economy by 2020.
"Due to the impact on productivity and human capital development, education is one of the most critical drivers for the nation's transformation from middle to high income.
"In achieving this goal, the public and private sectors can no longer afford to work apart, as stated in the education component of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA).
"Instead, both must come together through innovative public-private partnership models to jointly meet the nation's growth targets," Musa said, Thursday.
His speech was read by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai during the Shell Educational Excellence Awards Ceremony held at Sutera Harbour.
He said their efforts should not stop only at creating many graduates but also extended to students from poor families so that they could break away from the cycle of poverty.
He said this way equal education opportunities for citizens will help ensure the gap between the rural and urban areas will be narrowed and help students achieve their full academic potential.
Among others, Musa also said collaborations between industries and the academia is also essential to ensure subjects taught in school and institutes will be relevant to the country which "...will enable the creation of skilled graduates who are well sought after in the labour market."
Meanwhile, Shell Malaysia has allocated RM10 million for its scholarship programme this year and 80 students were picked to receive full scholarships to pursue their tertiary education locally and abroad, while 270 others PMR students were picked for bursaries nationwide.
Shell Malaysia General Manager, Frank Saing, said the non-bonding scholarships is part of the oil company's bit in the Economic Transformation Programme, whereby the annual investments are made in the field of education and human capital.
He said 35 out of the 80 students are from Sabah and that 82 students with excellent results in PMR meanwhile received bursaries.
Saing also revealed a Sabahan has been picked out of eight nationwide to receive Shell's special scholarships for the disabled, the programme introduced in 2010 in conjunction with Shell's 100th year anniversary.
"We pledge to continue to participate in programmes that support human capital development for the nation, the industry and our own staff.
The Shell scholarships, in particular, is a critical component of this commitment," he said.
One male recipient, Brandon Soh from Kota Kinabalu said he never expected to receive the Shell Scholarship because the interview was tough.
"I never planned to pursue my studies abroad. The telephone interview I had with Shell was tough," said the 20-year-old former Sabah College student.
Brandon is currently pursuing Mechanical Engineering studies with the University of Bristol, UK.
Meanwhile, PMR top scorer from SMK Kinarut, Jenica James Majanau, 16, said she credited her award due to her 6A, 1B results and being active in extra curricular activities. She is also active in the Police Cadet corps.
She was accompanied by proud parents, Shirlly Jeffry and Ronie James, who said Jenica was always keen to read books and does research on her own.
In the 40 over years the scholarship programme was introduced, Shell has invested close to RM140 million on 2,000 students picked on merit.
Shell currently employs 6,400 people, most of them Malaysians, since it began business in Malaysia 120 years ago.
Among those present was State Education Director, Datuk Dr Muhiddin Yussin, State Education Development and humanity sector head, Jamigul Datuk Salim, Shell's Human Resource Director, Darrel Lourdes.