Why nurturing young STEM minds matters - Hindustan Times
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Why nurturing young STEM minds matters

ByHindustan Times
Jan 19, 2024 03:40 PM IST

This article is authored by Sagar Sanghvi, CEO, Robokidz Eduventures Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.

India’s IT sector has experienced an extraordinary growth trajectory. This surge has been facilitated by economic reforms initiated in the 1990s, creating a fertile ground for IT expansion. The government’s ambitious “Digital India” initiative has further invigorated the IT landscape, driven by a burgeoning demand for IT products and services across consumer and business sectors. A youthful, rapidly expanding population, grounded in English language education, has sustained this momentum. The swift rise of e-commerce and the embrace of digital payment solutions like UPI have added further impetus to the IT industry.

Digital literacy (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Digital literacy (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

We are witnessing a new era of global industrialisation, characterised by the convergence of physical, digital, and biological technologies. This fusion is fundamentally altering our lifestyle, work, and interaction with our surroundings. Billions of interconnected devices are amassing and transmitting data, generating an enormous information pool. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are at the forefront, analysing this data, learning from it, making informed decisions or predictions, automating tasks, and fuelling innovation.

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In the Indian context, “Digital Literacy” is often understood as the ability to navigate the internet, use email, and communicate information using social media tools. However, to bridge the digital divide and ensure equitable access to technology and training, we must broaden our understanding of digital literacy. It should encompass the convergence of technologies, collaborations between humans and machines, AI and automation, cybersecurity awareness, data privacy, and most importantly, critical thinking in the digital realm.

India occupies a prominent position in the global IT landscape, but claiming the pole position would require further development in areas like hardware production, R&D, and building a stronger brand presence. It has the potential to excel, but democratisation of information and knowledge is necessary. In this age, a vibrant semiconductor ecosystem is essential to create smaller, faster, and more efficient devices. Having domestic capabilities is necessary to ensure access to vital technologies, and that the IT sector is not vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations. India's entry into the semiconductor space is recent. Government initiatives like the India

Semiconductor Mission (ISM) are promising, but established players like Taiwan, China, and Korea have a significant headstart in terms of technology, scale, and production capacity.

STEM education encompassing the interconnected fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is the cornerstone of this revolution. It has become increasingly crucial in equipping individuals with the essential skills and knowledge to thrive in the ever-evolving technological landscape. It is in this context, the Indian government has institutionalized flagship programmes, such as the Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) with a vision to cultivate one million children in India as tech-savvy problem solvers. ATL is creating a revolution in STEM and electronics education in schools to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing, etc.

The National Education Policy 2020, or NEP 2020, is India's blueprint for a transformative education system, prioritising STEM education, innovative technologies, and equitable access to learning for all. The policy prioritizes cutting- edge technologies like AI, Big Data, Blockchain, 3D Printing, VR, AR, and IoT. By understanding these Industry 4.0 tools, students would discover their practical applications and unleash their imaginations. NEP's ultimate goal is democratising access to high-quality education. Every student, regardless of location or constraints, deserves uninterrupted access to learning opportunities. Technology is the key to unlocking this vision, making education inclusive, forward-thinking, and boundless.

India's future success hinges on early exposure to STEM. Introducing STEM principles as early as first grade isn't just revolutionary, it's essential. This sparks curiosity, excites young minds, and lays the foundation for future STEM careers. As students progress, their interest deepens, culminating in a profound understanding and appreciation for these crucial fields. But the first steps are critical. Building a robust STEM foundation requires constant adaptation, substantial investment, and a focus on evolving disciplines.

The seeds of India's future are sown in classrooms buzzing with STEM exploration. With unwavering commitment, collaboration, and a shared vision, we can watch these seeds blossom into a forest of innovation, resilience, and endless possibilities. The journey has begun, but the most breathtaking chapters are yet to be written. Let this not be a moment of applause, but a launchpad for action.

This article is authored by Sagar Sanghvi, CEO, Robokidz Eduventures Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.

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