Education is a continuous process of learning. Now various methods can be implemented to ensure that a student is taught right from the wrongs, facts from the myths and numbers from the letters. Education primarily aims at making a person efficient if not an expert, in all fields of life. The goal is to make a person capable of surviving in the harsh world today but it can be more than that, much more. However with the advent of better technology, it’s hard to keep up by just educating yourself with the basics. The right kind of education will make sure that at the end of your course you are skilled in at least one sphere of life and can afford a job for yourself which will also be beneficial for the nation.

People today are obsessed with accumulation of degrees than with accumulation of knowledge. With the cut throat competition rampant in all spheres of life, people try all means of first getting selected and then on a later stage realize that they might not be adequately skilled for the job. Let me give you an example. There is a person who scores well all their life and finally gets a job based on his marks. The profile let’s say is a ‘Civil Engineer’. Now this person has no real experience at drawing buildings on his own and when he sits to work, it takes him hours to do the same work that a person who has been working as an intern from a long time before. All his degrees will not aid him here because the prime outcome of a practical approach is hands on experience.  It will take him a very long time to get a sense of all the material required to draw perfectly fast for the job.

This example is more common than we deem it to be. In the same manner a lot of people turn up for jobs they are not skilled for or some jobs fall in the hands of people who have no inclination towards them, a perfect misfit. However, it’s not their fault, rather the curriculum and system of education is to be complemented in such a way which helps to set things right.

Things are not the same outside India. Taking the example of US, after an interagency meeting of NFS (National Science Foundation), Rita Colwell provided a solution to the problem at hand and introduced STEM education system.  Since then it has been implemented in all parts of the US, with recent spending of about $2 billion on STEM education. Obama is largely supportive of the STEM way of helping the kids learn. On the other end, most of the immigration debates in America are surrounded by factors concerning STEM. With the lack of skilled workers for Hi-tech jobs, the preference for the right skilled candidate has increased to ensure fair contribution in the country’s economy and welfare.

The problem with the current system of education elsewhere is that the subjects of STEM are taught in isolation with no practical approach. Now while it might ensure great theoretical knowledge, it has no effect when it comes to doing a task at hand. The STEM education in USA today serves multiple purposes and is largely the most encouraged learning program in the US. The idea is to teach the kids at an elementary level so that they get hands on experience at a very young age. The program also targets teachers and helps them to develop skills through additional training of STEM.

US also has an award program called Boy Scouts of America which is a great step towards promoting interest and involvement in STEM disciplines. They have awards like Nova and Supernova for young boy scouts as they complete specific levels required in their program in each field of STEM. After US, the next big step is taken up by Australia. I-STEM (invigorating STEM) which is an enrichment program based in Sydney. The success of this very program has resulted in numerous universities and science organisation supporting the STEM initiative. I-STEM also involves enrichment programs where students as well as teachers are taken to the US Space Academy Program.

In terms of the percentage of its graduates who studied in STEM programs, Canada ranks 12th among other peer countries with 21.2%, a number higher than the United States but lower than countries such as France, Germany and Austria. The peer country with the greatest proportion of STEM graduates is Finland with over 30% of their university graduates coming from Science, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Engineering programs. Canada also has a scouts program similar to the US initiative. Countries like India, Turkey and Qatar are also in league with a few people taking the initiative forward but the ratio of expenditure in these countries is miniscule in comparison to western countries. To describe the impact on India due to this, three out of four students (78%) from India who have migrated to US for higher studies have enrolled into STEM programs-highest proportion than any other country. These are the numbers, now let’s discuss facts.

This is where India stands today. In a world quickly evolving and inclined towards technology, India is lagging far behind in terms of making the right investments in the field of education. The nation doesn’t need new uniforms, but it does need STEM. The better half of the world has realized this and has already started working towards it. It’s time for India to catch up, let stop this brain drain, let’s focus on STEM!

Reference: Meet the STEM scouts, STEM enrollment in US by international students

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