On 22 September, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, took part in the International Launch of the Global Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Alliance, with which UNESCO partners.
The Global STEM Alliance launch was co-hosted by the NY Academy of Sciences, UNESCO and the International Telecommunication Union, and held at the United Nations, led by Ellis Rubinstein, President the NY Academy of Sciences and Amir Dossal, head of the Global Partnership Forum, bringing together Governments at the highest level from across the world, along with the private sector, civil society organisations and academic institutions. His Excellency Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and the First Lady of Malaysia, participated in the event, as well as Andrew O'Brian, Special Representative for Partnerships at the US Department of State.
A prominent role during the event was played by young students as well as teachers, including 35 girls and boys from Malaysia.
“The Global STEM Alliance embodies the ‘soft power’ the world needs today,” said the Director-General, “connecting the dots between government, the United Nations, the private sector and academia, on an issue at heart of all efforts to build a sustainable future.”
In response to the global STEM crisis, Irina Bokova proposed four core areas of action – Attracting girls and boys into STEM, providing support countries at every level, to integrate STEM into development frameworks, to support curriculum development and teachers in every way, a new focus on girls and women – to attract them into STEM, to nurture new role models.
The President of Malaysia said "it is important there is a new generation of young people who are passionate about STEM -- we have to make this happen, to attract children into these studies, to make it fun and cool."
Ms Cathy Novelli, Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy & the Environment, United States Department of State, spoke at the launch, reminding all of the urgent need for STEM skills and knowledge for growth and development.
"The country needs STEM workers," said Ms Novelli, "as do all countries."
The Director-General placed the launch in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
“Every country today is seeking new sources of dynamism, new levers for sustainable development – this is why STEM is so important,” said the Director-General.