February 24, 2021 6:24:29 pm
THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology (DST) is aiming to reach out to over 10,000 schoolgirls and steer them towards pursuing a career in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the Vigyan Jyoti programme expanding to an additional 50 districts.
Launched in 2020, the scheme covers female students of Class XI and introduces them to the various branches of science, research and career opportunities through a number of activities: 550 online lectures, 150 talks by noted scientists, science camps and visits to laboratories and industries. The programme also holds special counselling sessions for parents with the objective of bridging the generation gap over opting for a career in science. Schools, in partnership with closest acting resource centres like Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, national-level research and development labs along with central and state universities, provide insights into the field.
“For multiple reasons, including poor lab facility, non-availability of quality teachers, limited socio-economic conditions and more, many female students would not pursue STEM after school. There is also a perception among parents that opting for STEM courses will be an expensive affair in comparison to other streams,” Dr Sanjay Mishra, adviser to DST and head of Vigyan Jyoti and KIRAN programmes, told The Indian Express.
In the first phase, the scheme covered 58 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in 58 districts and was open to Class XI students only.
Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the second phase of the programme, Prof Ashutosh Sharme, secretary, DST, had said, “Under-representation of women is a multi-dimensional problem and we need to see the issue from all angles and give a little push to get the desired result. The New Education Policy and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy could remove the constraints and make use of demographic dividend to progress more in a short time and help increase the number of women in science.”
This year, with the scheme being expanded to 50 more districts and its doors open for Class IX students as well, including those from some aspirational districts, the DST is planning to reach out to more than 10,000 girls. Besides, a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000 will also be provided to senior students under the programme, said DST officials.
Each centre will be supported with Rs 20 lakh, where 50 students will undergo a year’s training. The department is also in talks with the industry sector in major cities, which could play a key role in showcasing industry requirements of STEM in steering R&D and innovation in the country. As of now, IBM has come on board and will be interacting with the students from their major centre, such as Bengaluru.
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