Americans seem to know that sky is not the limit and plan to settle on the moon. Chinese adding their yin to this yang are set to launch their artificial sun. The world is already witnessing the fourth industrial revolution but we unfortunately continue to linger in the medieval times.
For Pakistan to experience its renaissance, we need to stitch the gap between Science and Society. STEM, being the blend of Science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a way of teaching that relates different disciples to each other. These four ingredients mixed together are essential to serve the needs of future. The subjects are taught by providing real life problems which garner student’s interests and enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills. They are able to link several aspects of a situation which helps them to find better and practical solutions.
The solutions to current international issues like climate change, world hunger, energy crisis, and water shortage rely on innovative ideas and a hybrid approach. It can bring reforms in medicine, agriculture, and create new job opportunities. If adopted on mass level, it will elevate human living conditions and increase efficiency.
COVID 19 Pandemic:
The recent pandemic has manifested the importance of STEM fields. Making vaccine to Covid 19 virus in such short time span is a historical landmark and was made possible by shared knowledge of disciples like Biotechnology, Epidemiology, Microbiology, Artificial intelligence, Robotics, and quantum computing.
It has also significantly accelerated our shift to virtual reality and made possible to work from home in lockdown.
Universities in Pakistan offer various degrees in these fields but there are several challenges to it. The system and curriculum is designed based on power of retention. Teaching institutions lack proper resources, laboratories, and updated equipment for practical studies. Furthermore, there are hindrances in access of information to data and researches.
Teachers also fail to draw connections between different disciples while teaching and in providing real life examples which is a major setback.
Other than lack of resources the field also faces gender discrimination in terms of women’s representation. Majority of them do not specialize in their education due to cultural norms.
The country’s upcoming lot is being prepared and wasted on skills of the past which will lead to a greater economic and survival crisis in near future. So to better equip our youth for the jobs of tomorrow we need radical changes in our system that is outdated and biased.
Internationally, governments and NGOs are driving the movement to empower young generation leading in this sector. In Pakistan, several NGOs and private institution are making small level efforts on STEM programs. An example includes ‘STEMx’ by Pakistan Innovation Foundation and LUMS. Most of the private schools and colleges have also adapted to the latest curriculum.
However, a strong support from policy makers, politicians and people is required to encourage our youth to pursue a career in STEM that have become more than important now.