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Towards social and gender equity in STEM education at school level to make it universal and qualitative
The quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and quality of life are interrelated. It is well understood now that socio-economic progress without science and technology is rather impossible and new jobs and vocations require sound mathematical literacy for the workforce. For quality of STEM education, it needs to be linked with equity.

Therefore, it implies that universalization of STEM education is essential and it needs to be made available for all children without discrimination of region, gender, race; religion and socio-economic background. The STEM education with equitable quality at the general education level of high school or grade ten should be accessible to all children. Quality of STEM education needs to be seen in terms of the fitness of purpose and contexts of children coming from diverse backgrounds and communities. This means that the content, idioms, symbols, designs, purposes and transaction styles of curriculum should link to the day to day experiences and context of children.

Therefore, quality in STEM education needs to be seen as an integration of STEM content; children's context and their personal development with freedom for paces of learning and diverse learning styles. Science and mathematics refer to theoretical knowledge and the processes by which these two learning areas are generated and tested, while technology looks for solutions of practical problems and development of instruments, devices, appliances and systems that get produced consequently. The pedagogy of STEM, and issues of both social and gender equity, thus, become central quality concerns in curriculum transaction in the classroom. While accommodating the diversity of students, STEM curriculum transaction must lead to personal development of children as logical and rational thinkers capable of self-direction, cooperation and taking socially responsible actions.

The contemporary issues of public education in STEM in commonwealth are related to STM-for-all up to high school level with gender and social equity. There is a growing concern among education of all movements for improving STEM education along with teaching of English. The pace towards SDGs achievement for education is inadequate due to persistent societal and attitudinal barriers towards education of girls in most developing and under-developed countries.

In many commonwealth countries, the terminal education of large number of rural students is grade eight, the open and continued education systems need to strengthened and optimally operationalized towards vocational certificate courses related to traditional occupations like agriculture and new technologies like computer science and information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Though public-private partnership  and  industry-supported projects some good work is done, but the vested interested of the market forces are confining it to ICT streams to the extent that academic learning of STEM is being relegated to the status of non-ICT streams. 

The digital era is the new opportunity to make STEM education more contextualized and process-based using local material and its feminization which is based upon cooperation, sharing and caring rather than competition and capital investment. Therefore, it is recommended that STEM curricula and their transaction at the school level should be contextualized to make them relevant and qualitative with inclusion of cooperative and collaborative learning methods for social and gender equity.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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