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STEM Education Grows in Developing Countries


The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are being heavily encouraged in developed countries, but developing regions are also encouraging and financing STEM education.

STEM focuses on the areas of education that have a scientific focus. Students who earn these types of degrees are able to gain employment in information technology (IT), medicine, higher education and many other fields.

Encouraging STEM growth in developing countries is important because many new jobs are being created in the booming medicine, computer and IT industries worldwide. Educating people in these fields is going to bring tremendous growth to the nation’s economy and help get people out of poverty.

India has been working hard to promote STEM in their educational programs. Even in the United States, the results of their nascent success are visible. However, regions all over Africa are also promoting STEM education to help bolster their economies.

India still suffers from tremendous poverty throughout the country, but the country is trying to change this partly through educational initiatives. The India STEM Foundation strives to build up STEM education as described in their vision: “To create a world where young people are encouraged to celebrate fun and excitement of science and technology, and inspire them to take science and technology based career paths to become tomorrow’s much needed technology leaders.”

To get that vision to come to life, the foundation supports robotics programs and competitions for children. They have many world partners helping to create these positive learning environments such as Lego, John Deere, Caterpillar and United Technologies, to name a few.

Africa is another place that is using education, specifically STEM education, to move people out of poverty. In 2014, the World Bank approved financing for “19 university-based Centers of Excellence in seven countries in West and Central Africa. These competitively selected centers will receive funding for advanced specialized studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines, as well as in agriculture and health.”

The World Bank is hopeful that this financing will help fill the shortage of skilled workers that Africa is facing in health, telecommunications and industry. Another benefit of financing universities in Africa will be that more students will have STEM education in relative proximity to their homes instead of having to travel abroad for education. This allows more students to have the option of a good higher education. Also, since those students will be trained in their own countries, the skilled workers have an incentive to remain in their regions strengthening the skilled labor force and even creating economic growth.

The United Nations has published findings that affirm that STEM education “can remove poverty and reduce inequality in developing countries.” However, there are several cultural challenges that countries face when implementing long-term improvements in STEM, including children losing interest in STEM classes and the gender stereotypes that often leave girls behind.

Those issues are being addressed. Robotic camps are popping up all over the world, not just in India, and they help encourage children’s interest in STEM fields through fun activities. In addition, more and more women are emerging into STEM fields and breaking down some common gender barriers.

STEM education is becoming more of a focus as our world becomes ever more digital. With the wonderful encouragement that children in developing parts of the world are getting, STEM education and the respective fields should continue improving.

Megan Ivy

Sources: George Mason University, India STEM Foundation, UN, World Bank
Photo: Benignant De Eagle