NMF seeks national quality alliance in STEM education
- Key issues: Growth potential in STEM education
- Nationales MINT Forum introduces six core demands
Berlin, 27 June 2019 – “We want to join politicians, civil society, the private sector, and academia in creating a national quality alliance.” This statement was made by Dr. Nathalie von Siemens and Dr. Ekkehard Winter, spokespersons for the Nationales MINT Forum (National STEM Forum, Germany / NMF), today at the 7th National STEM Summit. Around 120 prominent representatives from federal and state governments as well as members of the Nationales MINT Forum discussed the growth potential of STEM education with experts and guests from the STEM sector.
“STEM education is now established policy,” the speakers said with a nod to federal and state government bodies for their range of concrete activities in support of STEM education in recent months. They cited state programs that support regional STEM Networks in Bavaria, North Rhein-Westphalia, and most recently, in Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. Another important aspect is the German federal government’s STEM Action Plan. Christian Luft, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, said at the summit: “STEM education must be a core part of general education because STEM is the future. The government’s STEM Action Plan will strengthen STEM education. Together with the STEM community, we’re launching new efforts to put existing potential in Germany to better use.”
As in year’s past, the NMF has established six core demands (German) The first three reflect the need for cooperation and networking and are based on the results of 2018’s 6th National STEM Summit as well as the political developments of the past year; the other three core demands were created specifically for this year’s summit
1. Form a national alliance to strengthen the quality and impact of STEM initiatives!
“The emphasis must now be on quality assurance and impact orientation,” said NMF spokesperson Dr. Nathalie von Siemens. Part of this is achieved when public and civic education providers work closely with the private sector, as evidenced by the many successful collaborations so far. Most of all, systematic, long-term quality assurance requires strategic cooperation between government, civil society, the private sector, and academia. The Nationales MINT Forum seeks to create such a quality alliance founded on the collective engagement of the more than 30 NMF members – national academic institutes, foundations, and associations – and on their work with federal, state, and communal authorities as part of the STEM Action Plan.
2. Systematic, coordinated improvements to regional STEM Networks!
NMF spokesperson Dr. Ekkehard Winter referred to 120 STEM Regions that have proven to be an effective model for success. He appealed to politicians to closely link planned efforts, such as those in the STEM Action Plan, with the range of existing structures and networks. He cautioned: “Nothing would be a bigger setback than doubling-up on structures.” Together with Körber-Stiftung, the NMF will launch a series of dialogs on the STEM regions in November 2019. These talks will provide decision-makers and stakeholders from the federal, state, and regional levels with the opportunity to exchange and network with each other.
3. Create an integrated system of schools and surrounding opportunities with all education partners!
“It is now agreed that school alone is not enough to teach 21st century skills,” von Siemens noted. The formal transitions alone cannot keep up with the scientific, technological, and digital shifts currently taking place. Therefore, the NMF is calling for a system that integrates schools and other local opportunities. The wide range of extracurricular STEM initiatives provides new ideas and hands-on experiences that schools cannot offer.
The three following core demands have been specifically developed with the summit in mind. Experts will present ideas and data that relates to these demands; potential solutions will be discussed in panel discussions (agenda in German).
4. Win over and keep women in STEM – for vocational training, too!
The latest figures from the STEM Youth Barometer and the STEM Spring Report show that girls and young women are still hard to win over to STEM, particularly when it comes to vocational training. “It isn’t enough to simply integrate girls and women into these subjects,” said Winter, which is why this issue is being addressed on its own at the summit. NMF is calling for specific incentives and regional cooperation to win over girls for STEM, with an emphasis on vocational training. “The federal government’s STEM Action Plan communications campaign will hopefully play an important role here,” said Winter.
5. Achieve a change in perspective in professional and academic orientation!
The WEF said back in 2015 that two-thirds of today’s children and adolescents will pursue a career that we don’t even know today. “This is why we need to go beyond simply helping them learn the familiar (STEM) vocations and also teach them to discover their own strengths, interests, and individual potential,” said von Siemens. Working together with extracurricular STEM initiative stakeholders is an important part of this goal. At the same time, people coming to education from outside the traditional teacher training system need to be integrated into schools. “This is the only way to make sure a change in perspective takes places on all levels,” von Siemens added.
6. Focus vocational and academic mentoring on individuals!
The educational backgrounds of vocational trainees and university students are becoming increasingly individualized, a shift that ultimately affects their educational success. Especially among university students, a noticeably high number are not completing their studies. “This is why we need to provide long-term and individualized mentoring for vocational trainees and university students,” said Winter, citing examples such as interdisciplinary aids to entry, more practical experience, new forms of mentoring, and the recognition that a change in vocational or academic direction should not be perceived as a failure, but as an opportunity.