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Sustainability Insight #5: Investments in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) for SDGs

20/07/2020
17 - Partnerships for the Goals

UNESCO Jakarta organized fifth interview session of the “Sustainability Insight in 30 minutes” on 16 July 2020 from 11:30 to 12:00 (GMT+7). In this series, we invite one implementing partner at a time and learn from their knowledge, experience, and view of the post-pandemic new normal.

As a guest of fifth session, we invited Prof Dr Manzoor Hussain Soomro, President of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECOSF), Islamabad, Pakistan. ECOSF promotes STEM and Science, Engineering, Technology, and Innovation (SETI) for sustainable development and economic growth of 10 Member States (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).

Prof Soomro and Prof Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Jakarta, revisited the definition of the STEM, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and Inquiry-based science education (IBSE) and relationship among them. In Prof Soomro’s view, STEM subjects are the important topics for ESD, and the IBSE is a key approach in teaching the STEM subject. IBSE allows children the opportunity to explore “hands on”, to experiment, to ask questions and to develop responses based on reasoning. Therefore, all three elements are synergistic, and important for all levels of society members and all genders.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the most significant challenge for ECOSF is the lack of stable broadband. Unstable internet connection has been affecting the IBSE program and online teacher training. He highlighted it is important for government to invest on ICT infrastructure to support delivery of education.

They also explored the ideal level of investment on STEM. On average, ECO countries spend 0.3% of GDP on research and development, which is much less than most developed economies. Prof Soomro recommended all part of society must invest to STEM, and acceptable and minimum levels of investment as 1 % of GDP.