Press releases | Education 16.10.2013

German-Chilean knowledge-sharing for more effective teaching of STEM subjects

Bildungspaket
Participants at the expert forum on social innovation and education at the German-Chilean Business Forum in Santiago de Chile.
© AHK Chile

The effective teaching of scientific and technical subjects is fundamental to improving social cohesion and a prerequisite for long-term prosperity in the face of global competition. A good grounding in the STEM subjects also plays an important role in social mobility. Especially in times when skilled workers are difficult to find, a good scientific and technical education can play a decisive role in improving the career prospects of young people. In Chile and Germany alike, the last few years have seen a rapidly growing awareness of the key role that a good education in the STEM subjects plays. An increasing number of representatives from science, industry, politics and the third sector are coming together to promote interest in STEM education and improve the quality of teaching from preschool age through to graduation.

As part of the German-Chilean Business Forum hosted by the German Chamber of Commerce in Santiago de Chile, taking place 15-16 October, the Siemens Stiftung is collaborating with the State of Bavaria's office in South America to organize a "social innovation and education" forum. Dr. Nathalie von Siemens, Managing Director and Speaker of the Siemens Stiftung, together with representatives of the Bavarian Training and Education Compact (Bildungspakt Bayern) and the TUM School of Education (Technical University of Munich), will be participating in discussions with Chilean educationalists and business representatives about effective forms of public-private partnerships (PPP) that can make a significant contribution to improving the structural quality of STEM teaching. 

A central topic of these discussions will be the "STEM regions" model. In this approach, the quality of STEM teaching across an entire region is improved through measures tailored to the region's particular needs. Latin American countries are taking an increasing interest in the "STEM regions" model in order to assess whether this PPP form can be transferred to the respective local situations. At the "social innovation and education" forum, Ralf Kaulfuss, Managing Director of the Bavarian Training and Education Compact, will be meeting up with representatives of Chilean social groups to discuss how knowledge and experience can be better shared between educational initiatives in Chile and Germany. "The success of the Bavarian Training and Education Compact has shown what can be achieved when government and business work towards a common goal, accept mutual responsibility for the social challenges of the future, and are prepared to break new ground."

“Experimento”, the international education program from the Siemens Stiftung, is particularly well-suited to enhancing the quality of STEM education throughout the entire educational chain and to bundling the resources of different cooperation partners in the most effective manner possible. This educational approach to improving the level of STEM instruction in schools is structured in line with the curriculum. Based on learning through discovery, it can be employed from preschool age right through to graduation.

As Dr. Nathalie von Siemens, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung, emphasizes: "The goal of Experimento is to make a contribution to a child's overall development. This also includes the promotion of aspects such as social competence, decision-making, and speaking and comprehension skills."

Experimento starts out by addressing teachers and educationalists. As various studies have shown, this group of people plays a vital role in determining the success of an educational initiative and needs to be involved at an early stage. This was also corroborated by Professor Dr. Manfred Prenzel, Dean of the TUM School of Education at the Technical University of Munich: "Teachers are key to successful instruction that not only transfers knowledge but also arouses and maintains enthusiasm for science and technology. Students must be taught to understand scientific concepts, and also be given the opportunity to carry out their own research and experiments. Teachers of STEM subjects can learn how to use this method of instruction as part of their basic professional training or in special further training courses or quality drives." 

Experimento centers of excellence are to be set up in which local entrepreneurs will be encouraged to become partners in improving STEM education. Discussions with representatives from business, politics, science and foundations during the expert forum at the German-Chilean Business Forum represent an excellent opportunity for building up suitable contacts.

As Dr. Nathalie von Siemens emphasizes: "We are delighted by the response to our initiative for boosting knowledge sharing between STEM education networks in Latin America and Germany. Working together with our cooperation partners we hope to win the support of further collaborators, especially in Chile."

Over the last two years, Experimento has already been introduced to over 600 teachers and more than 21,000 students across Chile, Argentina, Columbia and Peru. In Chile, for example, cooperation with prominent educational institutions such as the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile or the Fundación Chile has enabled teachers to be familiarized with the program during basic and continuing training, bringing consequent improvements in STEM education.