In a fast-evolving digital world, the importance of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) stream of education is heightened. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality and other new and emerging technologies have provided us with alternate avenues, helping us cope with the new normal and function efficiently. These technologies are playing a key role in transforming the society and have penetrated every aspect of our lives.
India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. The Government’s impetus on creating a vibrant landscape that thrives on technology and innovation is evident from the various initiatives under the fold of the Startup India vision.
Building a skilled workforce which can rise to the needs of a dynamic business landscape is the focus of the Government and all other key stakeholders. ‘Catch Them Young’ is the mantra adopted by corporates, to kickstart the process early, so that we successfully create a pool of efficient workforce and STEM education has a seminal role to play in this.
An enriching STEM curriculum will help shape young minds in a technologically viable way, inculcate the habit of logical reasoning and critical thinking, create an aptitude for solving problems and give rise to the next generation of innovators.
While new-age technologies are becoming integral to our lives, the education system has also changed significantly. STEM has also made education even more interesting for the students with the use of latest gadgets that offer a gamified experience to students. This is propelling students’ interest in coding, robotics, and engineering.
India’s science, technology and innovation educational ecosystem is rich and includes 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology, Regional Engineering Colleges, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, and a range of engineering and technology colleges set up by state governments.
In addition, the Government is inculcating the innovation mindset in schools through the Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering Labs. This scheme aims at ensuring a culture of curiosity, creativity, and imagination among school students. Skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing, etc. are promoted through the program which is functional in almost 9,000 schools across the country.
The success of the Indian space missions is also creating a deep interest among students for going into depth in related areas including physics, engineering and mathematics. Opening up the space sector to private industry will further create jobs in the STEM areas and encourage more courses as well as more students in them.
The Government launched the Indian Science, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) in 2020. This is an interactive national portal, which hosts a variety of scientific programs. The R&D facilities of various institutions that are funded by agencies of the Government are listed on the portal.
Women constitute 40% of undergraduate students in science and 30% in engineering. The number of women scientists in India is low at a mere 12%. Women teachers occupy a small percentage of the faculty, at around 12% in top institutes.
In the technology sector, 25% of the total positions are held by women and around 12.7% of working engineers are women. Therefore, encouraging the participation of women in the field of STEM is the need of the hour.
The Government is encouraging girls to pursue their interest in STEM. The Department of Science & Technology (DST) launched the Vigyan Jyoti programme in 2019. The program includes visits to scientific institutions, lecturers from women scientists, guidance from experts and career counselling. DST also launched GATI (Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions) in 2020, which aims to promote gender equality in the STEM fields.
CII and Tamil Nadu Technology Development & Promotion Centre (TNTDPC) have published an e-book titled, ‘Nurture and Celebrate Indian Women in STEM’ with a view to recognize the women role models in the field. The book features the achievements of 50 women, who are leaders in their respective fields of work and have contributed immensely to the society and the country at large. They are an inspiration for young and mid-level professionals who aspire to make it big in their respective fields. To read the book, click: https://bit.ly/3mWWV63
I STEM Portal – https://www.istem.gov.in/