Closing the Access, Attainability and Quality gap in STEM education.
Create local ecosystems to synergize quality STEM education and skilling of youth through cross-age tiered mentoring at scale.
With the fourth industrial revolution, the future of work is changing at a rapid pace. Increasing skill gap calls for an urgent need to re-train the workforce globally. The challenge is pronounced for a diverse, populous and developing country, like India. With a young population of ~500M, <5% have formal skills training. Out of those, <1% have the required STEM skills leading to lack of innovation and stunted job creation. The present pandemic has further amplified these challenges, calling for an urgent addresal of the problem. India is ranked 51 in the global innovation Index, lowest in BRICS nations, and has a meagre Gross Enrolment Rate of 26.3% in Higher Education. Over 60% of higher education centres are in rural India with poor technological penetration (<20%), complex socio-cultural fabric and resource starved. Further, a resource intensive STEM education struggles with policy making to attain scale leading to inaccessibility in rural regions. It is therefore a prerequisite to find viable solutions at scale. VigyanShaala is addressing accessibility, lack of quality STEM education and guided mentoring to prepare youth for the technology focused workforce of the future.
We have performed many workshops across the country using state of the art STEM experiments where students perform the experiments themselves. In one of our workshops seen above are:
Local Teachers of the school are trained on state of the art experiments designed for children.
By 2030, we aim to engage 1 million K-12 students with hands on activities and support smooth transitioning of 5000 undergraduates into best global universities for higher-education and train 2500 research scholars as mentors.
Background: As scientists who perform outreach, it became very clear very quickly that solutions that are tended need to work in tandem with the Govt. Education Machinery. The Central and State Government Education Machinery is ofhundreds of thousands of crores of rupees and is the most comprehensive system in place in the country. Even with best intentions and modern approaches, it is unfeasible and unrealistic to create any type of parallel system that will impact Indian Education in this scale. Working with stakeholders in the system and bring fruitful changes is one of the most effective approaches to really scale the impact of any novel approach we bring to the table, thereby creating systemic changes.
The Opportunity and Challenge: While we were working on the ground, we were slowly coming to terms of this realization. As Destiny would have it, at exactly the same time we were given an opportunity to survey and understand the main challenges in STEM education in Govt. Schools in the state of Uttarakhand. As our first entry into the world of Policy, we read through various research papers on education from the best researchers. We discussed debated and learnt from Experts in this field, from Policy Think Tanks, Educationists and Research Professors in Social Science. With the assistance from the Govt. of Uttarakhand and the stake holders in the education department, we developed a comprehensive survey: The Aim was to create a baseline of challenges for STEMC education in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. We surveyed close to 150 schools and over 1000 students. The challenges from the teacher’s perspectives are being surveyed through an online platform. Few Photos and Videos of our work have been presented below. We recruited a team of 25 volunteers for this work which took over 2 months to complete. The present status of progress is Data Validation Consistency Checks as well as filling up of the teacher-surveys. Watch this space for the results of what the survey tells us.
The Importance: It is quintessential to find the main challenges the students face in pursuing STEMC in their schools. Challenges are of various nature, Socio-Economic, Infrastructure: Human and Physical, Geographical Aspects it being a Hilly-Terrain and the Significance of Education History in the state. All of these effect how STEMC is integrated into the education system. Our objective here is to quantitatively rank the challenges the state faces and to find solutions that solve them. Due to the already tight budgets, it is important to obtain maximum impact with the least investment made and for this the ranking of challenges with respect to severity is the start measuring the baseline. This survey is designed to achieve precisely that. The results of the survey will be presented to various stake-holdrs in the system: in the education department, the Executive Cadre (District Magistrates), Teacher Training Centres (DIETs). We hope insights from this report and its oureach with the stakehoders in the system will bring about systemic changes in the methodology of administration, teacher training and start of a fruitful mission to usher changes in STEM education in the state. Fresh Out-of-the-Oven Data is coming in which are already giving interesting insights. As a teaser: Over 98% of teachers expect the parents of children (9th-12th) to teach them. Consider this in the backdrop of most students being first generation learners.
There is an internship available with VigyanShaala in Data Analytics. If you are interested please do check the Work With Us page.