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ERSU ABLAK >The importance of STEM-A for Turkey

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Two days ago, the Turkish Business and Industry Association (TÜSİAD) held a conference about STEM-A education and what it means for Turkey. At the end of the report, they had some suggestions as well. The report was prepared in collaboration with PWC.  

First of all, STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. TÜSİAD adds an A for arts to the explanation. 

Before sharing some findings about the report, let me quote former U.S. President Barack Obama about the subject: “Science is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world.”

He also called for all young people to learn coding like a foreign language. There is a reason for that. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the main subjects that get you ahead in global competition among countries. 

The Department of Education writes on its website that “All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow. But, right now, not enough of our youth have access to quality STEM learning opportunities and too few students see these disciplines as springboards for their careers.”

TÜSİAD Chairman Erol Bilecik, who made the opening speech at the STEM Project conference, said the fourth industrial revolution was underway and its effects had changed how work was done in all sectors including finance, health and energy. Quoting a study by World Economic Forum, he said 41 percent of basic career skills in Turkey would change by 2020 when compared to 2015. “This is why there is need to introduce the STEM approach to all levels of education, starting from pre-school,” he said.

Turkey’s Zorlu Holding CEO, Omer Yüngül, said that in several universities in the U.S., law faculties were teaching students about the possible crimes robots may commit in the future. “Everyone is getting ready for the future. Those who stay indifferent to this change will be destroyed,” he said.

According to the report, Turkey will employ 34 million people by 2023, 3.5 million of which will be STEM-based employees. However there is a shortage of a million workers with STEM education right now in various fields. 

If we don’t do something about this soon, we will be totally left behind. These days in terms of technology production, we are somewhere in the middle of the most technological list, but we will soon be relegated to the bottom half if we cannot educate enough people with STEM education.

June/15/2017

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