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From Transforming Thinking to Building Capacity: All-in-One

March 27, 2017
In the light of the increased global emphasis in post-2015 discussions and the needs of the 21st century learners, emphasis on innovative and meaningful learning and focus to the STEM subjects is at the heart of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, if setting goals are not directed by action to mitigate problems, the existing wider gap in educational achievement and the overall development will get wider. Building the capacity in developing countries hence must also be at the center of SDG actions. Cognizant of these, the State of Israel through its MASHAVE-Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation is doing its best in organizing various capacity building training sessions one being Education for Science and Math – STEM Framework that laid the foundation for us to attend the training.

Despite the natural differences, we as participants in the training had different level of exposure and experiences with regard to STEM Education. While some had experiences with STEM others did not even practice it in their countries. But, as the training and practical visits continued the idiom “Water-Oil” mix started to transform to that of “Water-Sugar” type of mix unlearning to learn and experience more as a team. This move pledged opportunities to aspire more and internalize the scenario of STEM in its proper sense. The fact that the state of Israel does its best to become center of innovation through integrated STEM approach reveals that the status quo “teacher led learning” is no more relevant and feasible. Here the integrated effort of all stakeholders which is worth mentioning is not only a proper example but a real model that can serve the globe. The piecemeal approach of isolated subject based science, technology, engineering and math learning – which stands as perennial function in many countries has had its root in the monolithic thinking, but the initiative the State of Israel tried to address “Integrated approach to STEM” is real that brought in us a changed thinking leading into a better capacity building. 

Albeit the Israel’s thought in approaching STEM education in an integrated way, the Café Dilemma which initiated vibrant project ideas was remarkable. In association with this the reflection on success stories presented by groups was a better learning experience to see back what is going on in our countries. The visit we had to Bloomfield science was inspirational and enlightening to see a number of own initiatives of Israel – the green house plantation, rolling sphere, and hydrophenics, and what not. In our visit to Tali Alona school has revealed not only the ideas but the practical actions that engaged students in running lively projects accompanied by environmental affiliation and sustainable manner – leading education for sustainable development. The zoo in the school was more than ever point full in relating real life situations and education. 

The programs that enrich high achieving students and the support to students with some learning difficulties gain was an amazing experience. The visit continued and we visited the science greenhouse at the Kibbutz Ein Shemer at which the real approach towards education for sustainable development was addressed. This place was not only a place to develop innovations but also serves as a hub in bridging school learning and societal development. The link centers create between a number of companies and students’ learning projects unravel a major lacking practice in many countries and the innovative ideas of students in the realization of learning were among the makings of the transformed thinking in education that we learned impressive.

These all helped us to reflect back to our practices and realize what is expected of our professional being. What students do in the schools we visited, the role the teachers played, the leadership of the school and the participation of professionals from the society are good examples of integration that realistically present STEM in an integrated way getting meaningful to learners and boosting innovation.   

Submitted by
Jorge Ivan Montalvo Navarrete (Colombia)
Nadiia Andrushchenko (Ukraine)
Kassa Michael W/Yesus (Ethiopia)
Sujata Chavan (INDIA)
Phuong Anh   Pham (VETNAM)