STEM Concept Taking Shape in Bangladesh
Figure-1: Explaining the basic concept of bd STEM Society- Unity of Knowledge - disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, crossdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarityare likefive arrows from a single bow: KNOWLEDGE // Figure-2:Vision of b
Prof. Dr. Qazi Azizul Mowla :
Currently an education movement is on-going world-wide in a subtle manner to integrate various branches of related disciplines to foster outcome based education - Bangladesh is also there nominally in the movement with IQAC programs. The idea is to discourage ritualistic education and embark on an outcome based education. In the developed countries this concept has evolved in the shape of integrated curriculum attempts which is being developed at school levels to make the students aware about the holistic nature of knowledge in the shape of STEM. At present various branches of sciences have been created for the convenience of specialization and research but they are all interconnected and rooted in one system, which if not understood will fall short of the holistic idea of science, thus deprivingcreation of knowledge and innovations. Both the applied and pure branches of science knowledge always encompasses multidisciplinary interactive approach for it to be productive. The idea of educating students in four specific disciplines in an integrated manner is the product of this thought process. Teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and applied approach, rather than teaching the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects brings forward the concept of "STEM" which integrates main disciplines into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. The term STEM is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in the schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. In Bangladesh, sporadic organization of Science Olympiads, Mathematics Olympiads etc. at school levels is also a part of this thought process. These are meant to instil among young minds the idea of inseparable nature of applied knowledge and create curiosity regarding relevant disciplines. With this backdrop, bdSTEM society has been conceived.
STEM taking shape
The aim is to increase bd STEM Society's involvement in the effort to help students at all levels, from elementary schools to graduate school and spark in them an interest in science and engineering. Bangladesh STEM society or bdSTEM thrives to promote a wide-range of exciting areas such as mathematics and computer science, engineering, technology, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, pure science and life sciences among the new generation. Previously, some of the likeminded people of diversified disciplines of science, technology, humanities and arts in Bangladesh were active in an internet based Bangladesh STEM Forum for quite some time. To bring dynamism in the relevant activities, a group of BUET faculty belonging to science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines decided to create a society involving STEM related faculties from all public universities in the first phase and then gradually spreading the movement. As stated above, the society has been created in response to global trend and need and also to address to the local problems by encouraging the development of human resources in Bangladesh, who will be skilled in multidimensional fields and encourage a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to look at the development context and problems in the country. With the concept of unity of knowledge and that to be implanted among the new generation at an early age, 20 July 2019 was set for the formal launching of the bdSTEM Society and has been launched successfully with the enthusiastic participation of university teachers from all over Bangladesh. First starting as a society of university level science discipline faculties, it would be expanded to school level science teachersat a later stage.
Vision and Mission of bd STEM
In this complex and fast changing world influx with scientific knowledge, it's more important than ever before that the nation's youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of huge information available, and know how to logically gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions or create new knowledge. If the nation wants the future generation leaders, teachers, community and workers to have the ability to understand and solve some of the root and complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce than the developing students' skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM fields at a very early stage is not overstated and bdSTEM Society has accepted that challenge. Through STEM education, students are expected to learn and become problem solvers, innovators, creators, and collaborators and go on to fill the critical pipeline of engineers, scientists, and innovators so essential to the future development of Bangladesh. In the first phase the focus is to define strategies to motivate different disciplines to act together, within the disciplines, between the disciplines, across the disciplines and beyond the discipline (Fig.1). Equipped with the concept of unity of knowledge, the idea is to teach to lead and the teachers would be in the steering wheel. It is because, the teachers are leaders in developing, informing, and implementing education policy and practice to guide systemic improvements to benefit student learning and have positive impact on the society.
The focus group at first would be junior school to high school level at a formal network for the application of STEM concept. Once it develops into a habit and after the consolidation of first phase, the bdSTEM Society plans to expand it to various levels and areas of the society like trans-discipline, trans-institutions, and transnational for collaboration (Fig.2).The bdSTEM Society calls upon policy makers, business leaders, philanthropists, educators, and all in Bangladesh to take the actions necessary to realize this future vision in collaboration with global partners.
(Prof. Dr. Qazi Azizul Mowla is Founding Member, bdSTEM Society and Professor of Urban Design, Conservation and Landscape, Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinion expressed in this write up are authors own and the society is in no way obliged to subscribe to the write up).