Science education is a great enabler. Science education is an answer to all challenges not only for India also for developing countries. Our neighbor, China, is already getting benefited from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. For India, STEM Education is relatively a new term but its gaining momentum. To survive and flourish in the age of the 4th industrial revolution, STEM Education is imperative. Industry and Science can together wonder for prosperity, peace, and better connected India.
A Professor at Harvard Business School – Tarun Khanna in his recent interview with Economic Times, suggested that entrepreneurship and science education together begin to bridge the gap by signaling to the industry that science is relevant to them. He was part of the team that created the Atal Tinkering Labs – creative tech play spaces in high schools in the previous government.
He feels that India does not lack in talent, but the education system doesn’t sort for creativity and innovative thinking, which is a big deal in science. He also feels that industrialist should have a regular conversation with scientists of the age. He says, “We have collectively failed to invest in building bridges between science and industry.”
Progress of business, industrial development, and science education are interlinked and interdependent. No society can move forward without the support of science and technology. Tarun Khanna says, “First, we need to signal to the industry that science is relevant to them.”
In India, support by the industry of Science education and labs is not a common phenomenon. Developed countries have a rich culture of supporting and funding to the labs. He says, “In Massachusetts, it’s common for companies to fund labs. They get the first right to license emerging technologies. Second, interns go from labs to companies. Third, investors float around labs identifying interesting technologies. Later, they build a business around that.”
Scientific education has to play a significant role in the development of the entrepreneurship spirit in India. Tarun Khanna elaborates, “When you understand something viscerally, not from a textbook, then you have the confidence to try things on your own, work on issues relevant to your community.”
India needs thousands of incubators and institutes, corporate to invest in their work on stabilizing the strong foundation for science. Tarun Khanna says, “Let them compete, and the good ones will survive. As a society, and definitely as a government, we’re underinvesting in science. We need to step it up. However, rather than get paralyzed by how big the task is, we should ensure our investments are productive.”
Mini Science Centres, flagship programme of STEM Learning, an award winning social enterprise is doing exemplary work in the area of Stem education. Till date, over 1330 Mini Science Centres (MSC) are in function, out of which 60% are in rural areas.
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