Making STEM Learning as the ‘ROOT’ of Education in India

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Indian Education System catering to the largest student populous is standing at a crucial juncture for an educational reform.

The number of STEM jobs is also growing at the fastest ever rate in India.

In India, People, Policy Makers, and Educational Societies need to create a conducive environment to avail the opportunity and benefits of STEM.

The sudden breakout of COVID -19 and its subsequent impacts have created havoc all over the world for the past two years now. Not since World War II have so many countries seen educational institutions closed due to a lockdown — around the same time and for the same reasons.

According to a UNESCO Covid Monitoring website, approximately 1.72 billion learners have been affected due to the closure of educational institutions.

Also, in a matter of weeks, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how students are being educated around the world. The centuries-old, chalk-talk teaching model is being transformed into one that is driven by technology and focuses on skill development. This is resulting in new trends coming up in a post-Covid-19 world that will positively impact the higher education domain.

The Indian Scenario

Talking in respect to India, as per National Statistical Office (NSO) survey, the study has pegged the overall literacy rate in the country at about 77.7% which is a 4% increase from 2018 of 74 percent literacy rate. In rural areas, the literacy rate is 73.5% compared to 87.7% in urban areas of the country.

Although the numbers are escalating and showing growth, the two factors are crucial to understanding in terms of educational scenario namely the Sudden Digital Pedagogy Shift and its Learning Outcomes.

For a developing nation like India, aspiring to be a trillion-dollar economy in the race, the advent of advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence, IT, Robotics, Coding shall be a propellor in the run.

As, the modern world shall function and flourish only on its technological capital, for a technologically borrowing country like India, it’s crucial to develop its resources to ace the game.

Being the second most populated country, having the richest but under-skilled demographic dividend, we can certainly have all the potential within.

The STEM Learning and its Scope for India

While the digizitation has woven the world into a virtual thread of connectivity, making it one global village, and so it is essential to empower our students with the skills and abilities to thrive and survive in this new framework.

This is where the much talked about, well testified and strategically designed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum should be adopted and implemented to tap, train and transform our students for the new normal.

The number of STEM jobs is also growing at the fastest ever rate. According to the National Science Foundation, it is predicted that 80% of the jobs created in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills.

These skills are appropriately labelled as 21st-century skills or STEM skills.

We also need to understand that while automation, digitization shall risk human jobs, the same STEM arena shall also open work opportunities for the ones skilled in the trade.

Making STEM Learning as the ‘ROOT’ of Education in India
Image Source: India CSR

STEM learning hails for its USP in Interactive and 3D learning methodology, easily understandable concepts, which are up-to-date and market-driven and deal with real-life problem-solving approaches.

STEM learning shall enable the child with better inquisitive mindsets, creative thinking, logical reasoning and develop them into leaders and better decision-makers in life. They are skilled professionals, in trades that are hands-on absorbed by the market.

The Preparedness for the shift?

Although developing countries like India have already been testing all their resources to digitize education for many years now, the question is highlighted now and that is- How prepared are we to deal with the sudden shoving of Education in this Digital Tsunami?

Reality speaks of a different trepidation today. Although everyone is boasting high of the technological revolution in the education system, we also need to understand the bottlenecks of the process. It would not be wrong to say that rural schools are the goldmines of latent talents, which are in dire need to be tapped, skilled and Optimizely utilised.

Data shown in Lok Sabha reveals that over 25,000 villages in India are still unconnected to the internet and a separate 2018 survey of 360,000 villages by the central rural development ministry found more than 14,700 villages were without sufficient or no electricity supply in India.

According to the Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India report, based on the 2017-18 National Sample Survey, less than 15% of rural Indian households have Internet (as opposed to 42% urban Indian households).

A mere 13% of people surveyed (aged above five) in rural areas — just 8.5% of females — could use the Internet. The schools and educational institutions are also struggling to have access to the required infrastructure like internet connectivity, telecom infrastructure, affordability of online system, availability of laptop/desktop, software, educational tools, online assessment tools, etc.

Teachers at the schools are not well equipped with the gadgets, so the first thing required shall be the capacity building of the teachers. It indicates that although we can move and implant setups of STEMs in government schools, but its mere normal functioning & security is still a far cry, leaving alone the impact question.

The Solution

These numbers laugh out loud in our faces once again for boasting high of a plan without chalking out the foundation firmly around it. In India, People, Policy Makers, and Educational Societies need to create a conducive environment to avail the opportunity and benefits of STEM.

Especially in rural setups subject experts like social organization – STEM Learning are putting most concerted efforts to take the mission right at the grassroots.

Here government should facilitate the mission while ensuring internet connectivity and electricity, empowering educators with essential teaching skills while working in cohesion with local bodies, communities, and civil societies.

Government’s Take

We also should appreciate that the Government of India is taking every possible step to make this shift as swift as possible, publishing information on various initiatives undertaken by ministries like MHRD, Department of Technical Education, NCERT, and others to support and benefit youth/students.

The government of India as well state governments, through their various ministries/departments, are dedicatedly trying to create infrastructure to deliver e-education.

These include National Knowledge Network (NKN), National Project on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), National Academic Depository (NAD), among others.

All these enhance ability to connect easily with institutions and enhance access to learning resources. The NEP 2020 also focuses on digitization as the core of the new Teaching-Learning Methodology and emphasize Skill & Outcome-based learning than the theoretical mugging of the curriculum.

Conclusion

Indian Education System, catering to the largest student populous is standing at a crucial juncture for an educational reform. The system is trying to incorporate Digitization and STEM learning as the core of the new Education Framework, each stakeholder is determined to contribute its bit in the ‘Yojna’ and make a ‘Digital India’ and ‘AatmNirbharIndia’ a reality in nearest future.

(Economy India)