In order to meet the dire need of a task force of problem solvers, educational institutions in India will have to move towards taken STEM education more seriously
The reason that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid great emphasis on revamping the intelligent quotient of the youth is not a trivial issue. Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative clearly aims at this and will also help India to act as a ‘prominent global manufacturing hub’.
No wonder India’s academic institutions are pulling up their socks (literally) when it comes to enhancing the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics together has been termed as STEM). This will result in creating a task force of highly skilled graduates.
Substantiates Sheetal Ranganathan, Global VP, Head of Life Sciences & Healthcare Operations, Evalueserve, Delhi said, “History has shown how a nation's socio-economic growth is strongly correlated with its technological innovation calibre. Our existence on Earth is governed by apps. With technology defining one's basic choices in when, where, and what to eat, wear or live, STEM subjects-science, technology, engineering, mathematics can no longer be seen as options to drop at school.”
Educational institutions including schools are now being expected to develop organic ways to encourage and enhance learning and development that supports STEM. Needless to say, the inspiration is to be derived from the United States of America model that pioneered the STEM learning. Educationists today believe that youngsters, who will have the opportunity to have a career in STEM, will have the best jobs globally. Maybe this is the reason that the Indian government has launched a global programme to enhance STEM learning. Entrepreneurs in the country are already giving warning signs that a shortage of STEM skills in students will worsen the business and industry growth in near future. Of the need of 75percent skilled workforce, only 16 percent are known to pursue studies in STEM education. Statistics also reveal that STEM projects are expected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018 while the non-STEM project is expected growth at a rate of only 9percent.
Lack of infrastructure and skilled teaching manpower remains the biggest hurdle in developing the human resource. However, government aided universities are doing well for themselves. One such is Mysore University which had the good fortune to major Science and Technology festival, all to promote and attract talent into the field of STEM. A four day seminar had more than 15000 visitors, 200 international delegates and 2000 national delegates for the 3rd International STEMFest last year itself deliberating on the future of STEM and need for it to be taken seriously. India has the rare combination of excellence in analytical skills, determination and hardwork. However, this skill set needs the right support from educational setups nationwide to make an unprecedented taskforce.
An insightful white paper has aptly put the need for STEM Education. It shows how basic schooling using STEM Education is going to help create a generation of problem solvers. There is a need for developing skills to tackle problems of a knowledge and technological driven economy.
This learning is also important at the teacher-mentor level where the importance of being creative cannot go without being a problem solver. The latter needs development of analytical and logical thinking that comes from exposure to STEM education only. Curricula will have to be innovative and do away with rote learning. Students will have to engage in group work and experiments that help them develop the heart and spirit of discovery, questioning, inquiry and as a result become excellent problem solvers. Most STEM lessons in school have to be based on engineering design process that makes learning and situation real and tangible. Therefore, there is no room for ambiguity.
Schools, therefore it seems have the most critical role to play in this paradigm shift that is happening in the socio-economic fabric of India.