COVID-19 Gets Corporates to Commit to Bring STEM Learning to Underprivileged Communities

( March 10, 2021 )

Airbus, IndoStar Capital Finance, Roche Pharma (India), Merck (USA), Roboclub (New Delhi), Police DAV School (Jalandhar), and Smile Foundation join hands to strengthen STEM learning among underprivileged communities in India.

New Delhi, March 09, 2021: Leading corporates, academia, and NGOs joined hands to bring STEM education to the underserved parts of India, and shape online learning in the post-pandemic normal. Understanding that the blended learning approach improves access to education for students across India through multiple means – smart phones, tablets, television sets and, radio, leading players from the industry committed to shaping the Indian education system.

At a webinar hosted by Smile Foundation, “The need and importance of STEM education”, senior management from Airbus, IndoStar Capital Finance, Roche Pharma (India), Merck (USA), Robo club (New Delhi), and Police DAV School (Jalandhar) brought forth key challenges and solutions faced by children in developing cognitive abilities and accessibility to quality education during the Covid-19 pandemic. They reiterated on the learning disabilities created due to social exclusion and also deliberated on access to online learning specifically for rural and urban slum students.

Speaking at the webinar, Dr. Ravindra Kumar, Associate Director, Global Technical Operations, CoE, Vaccines and Biologics Analytics, Merck, USA, said: “Great advancements have been made in medical sciences and innovation, and the pandemic is a clear example of how the scientific community has come together to solve complex problems. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and hence a shifted focus on interactive learning, allowing kids to learn faster, is of the utmost importance”.

Dr. Rashmi Vij, Principal, Police DAV Public School, Jalandhar, pointed out how man evolved critical thinking and problem solving since Stone Age and that these skills are as relevant today. She added, “We have to prepare our children with 21st-century skills because as they go in the job market it will not only help them with employability but also give them the ability to solve problems like handling a pandemic.”

Sheetal Ranganathan, Corporate Strategy Head, Roche India added: “STEM learning helps one crossover in many subjects, and boosts the overall confidence. Children trained in STEM subjects are trained to be courageous enough and realize humanism.” Sunaina Sood, Founder, RoboClub (New Delhi), also agreed and added that they have introduced STEM learning with a goal to inculcate overall confidence in students.

While Himani Gupta, Company Secretary, and Legal Counsel at Airbus Group India Private Limited- India and South Asia, said that “Corporates can play an important role in investing and developing the future generation through investing in STEM learning by sponsoring, donating and capacity building.”

Benaifer Palsetia, Chief Human Resource Officer & CSR Head – Indostar Capital pointed out, inequalities in learning opportunities, and said: “before we groom and train the kids, it is our mindset that needs to change.”

“The New Education Policy has also stressed on improving the quality of education, and of shifting focus from a rote-learning system to an educational system that encourages critical thinking skills, and generates creativity and curiosity – for every child, irrespective of his/her socio-economic background. At Smile, we have been making efforts in this direction, under our Mission Education programme through various methods under a blended learning approach” said Mr. Sanjeev Dham, COO, Smile Foundation.

The webinar brought forth a commitment by the corporates, academia, and NGOs to work together in shaping the new normal in line with revised policies and the ‘new normal’ in an inclusive way for the underprivileged communities of the country.

About Shiksha Na Ruke

With one year’s gap in education, over 24 million children globally are at the risk of dropping out of school. In India, 5.3 percent of rural children aged 6-10 years have not enrolled in school this year, compared to 1.8 percent in 2018. Through its Shiksha Na Ruke initiative, Smile Foundation has been making an effort to help less privileged children continue their education through a blended learning approach during the pandemic.

About Smile Foundation

Smile Foundation, is an NGO in India directly benefitting over 15,00,000 children and their families every year, through more than 400 live welfare projects on education for poor children, healthcare, livelihood and women empowerment, in over 2000 remote villages and slums across 25 states of India. Adopting a life cycle approach of development, Smile Foundation focuses its interventions on children, their families and the community.

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