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The Moon Man and the Missile Woman of India Join AIFs DigiQuity to Deliberate the Changing Paradigms of Access and Technology for STEM Learning in India

The Moon Man and the Missile Woman of India Join AIFs DigiQuity to Deliberate the Changing Paradigms of Access and Technology for STEM Learning in India
From Left to Right: Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF, Prof. Dr. Annapurni Subramaniam - Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore; Anil C Mathur - Visiting Professor, Centre of Space Science & Technology, IIT Roorkee and Group Director (Retd.), Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad, Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai - Former Director, ISRO; Dr. Tessy Thomas – Director General of Aeronautical Systems (Retd) and Former Project Director for Agni-IV Missile in DRDO, Kriti Khatri
Business Wire India

The American India Foundation, catalyzing social and economic change in India for the past 22 years, organized the annual education knowledge event ‘DigiQuity’ at the Ambassador, in New Delhi today. With access, equity, and gender inclusivity at the center, DigiQuity, drove a seminal discourse on strengthening gender-centric approaches to foster girls' and women’s participation in STEM education and careers. Through a digital-first approach, DigiQuity recognized the need for an inclusive and empowered education system, fundamental to driving socio-economic development, improving access to learning and technology, and highlighting the importance of role models that open the aperture to varied, fungible skill sets that the leaders of tomorrow need.
 
AIF, through its flagship education program Digital Equalizer, brought together over 100 policymakers, luminary scientists, corporate leaders, teachers, and learners, to cogitate on building a resilient education landscape in the country, rooted in using technology as pedagogy in schools and preparing students, especially girls, for 21st-century and STEM skills.
 
The eminent speakers consisted of thought leaders such as Nilesh M. Desai, Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC/ISRO), Ahmedabad; Harshit Mishra, Deputy Adviser (Education), NITI Aayog; Dr Mylswamy Annadurai - Former Director, ISRO; Dr Tessy Thomas – Director General of Aeronautical Systems (Retd) and Former Project Director for Agni-IV Missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation; Emma Stanton - Director, South Asia, Center for Inclusive Growth at Mastercard; Prof. Dr Annapurni Subramaniam - Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore; T. Gopalakrishna - Deputy Commissioner, Hyderabad Region, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and Project Coordinator, Vigyan Jyoti Programme; Kriti Khatri, Deputy Director, Department of Space, Govt of India, Ahmedabad; Anil C Mathur - Visiting Professor, Centre of Space Science & Technology, IIT Roorkee and Group Director (Retd.), Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad; Dr M R Sujimol, Scientist and Engineer, Delhi Earth Station, Space Applications Centre, ISRO, New Delhi; Mathew Joseph, Country Director, American India Foundation and Dr Baskaran D, Deputy Director, Digital Equalizer, AIF. 
 
With an overarching theme of ‘Empowering Tomorrow’s Innovators: Nurturing STEM, and Space Technology Champions’ DigiQuity kick-started with the keynote address by Nilesh M. Desai, Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC/ISRO), Ahmedabad who addressed the august gathering sharing that ‘Real science and real tech happen in small labs around the country and it’s important that through initiatives like DigiQuity, we inculcate STEM temperament in learners early on, to use space research and technology for the common man’.
 
Following the keynote, Harshit Mishra, Deputy Adviser (Education), NITI Aayog delivered a special address stating that ’with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of a Viksit Bharat in 2047, access to quality education and technology, especially for girls is the most important hurdle we need to address. Care of siblings, familial responsibilities, low access to secondary and higher secondary education, socio-economic burden, and poor access to technology are the problems that we need to address to enable their full participation in the future economy.’
 
India contributes 31.7 percent of the total STEM graduates in the world and has one of the world’s largest STEM job markets, yet faces one of the biggest gender gaps in STEM careers in the world. The inaugural panel, Championing Change: Bridging Gender Gap in Indian STEM Education and Careers’ deliberated building and driving strategies with a key focus on augmenting a skilled female workforce in India. With new innovative ways to implement NEP 2020, discussing student-centric engagement, digital learning, and their evolving need over the next decade, the session closed with a deep examination of how to institute models that will create and shape opinions that govern the thriving model of STEM education in the country.
 
The Missile Woman of India and esteemed panelist in the session, Dr Tessy Thomas, Director General of Aeronautical Systems (Retd) and Former Project Director for Agni-IV Missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation said ‘When we are working in tech that is first of its kind, the learning curve is steep, which includes challenges, failures, and collective successes.’. Elaborating further she said ‘The world is changing and so are educational concepts and methodologies, and teachers, especially women teachers, as role models are a very important piece of the puzzle for nurturing more girl participation in STEM. Representation Matters!’
 
The second panel ‘Women in Orbit: Role Models Paving a Path for Success in Space Science and Advanced Technology’ brought the spotlight on women scientists and engineers and their significant contributions to the field of space science in India. The panel discussed furthering equal opportunities, resources, and infrastructure to cultivate future female innovators and foster a new era of scientific and technological advancement. With Space Science at the forefront of technological innovation, the panel dwelled on the critical need to enhance technological literacy, ensuring students and teachers have access to cutting-edge tools and methodologies, preparing them for the rapidly evolving demands of the future workforce.
 
With the third largest scientific and technical human resource in the world, India has been at the vanguard of scientific innovation over the past decade. Speaking at the event, the Moon Man of India - Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, Former Director, of ISRO, said ‘What you dream, you become! Women scientists in Chandrayaan haven’t come out of nowhere. They are definitely and deliberately leading. There will be varied challenges in the next decade that demand a lot more learning, a lot more risks, and a lot many opportunities. So, dream big and focus!’

DigiQuity closed by underscoring the importance of dismantling gender barriers in STEM fields and fostering diversity as a catalyst for innovation and progress.

“AIF is honored to have India’s visionaries, STEM leaders, and key ecosystem stakeholders to further equity in the mission of advancing STEM learning. Digital Equalizer’s commitment to showcasing measurable impact and innovation in education demonstrates the effectiveness of collaborative models and the importance of data-driven approaches that are adaptable and scalable for sustained change. As we navigate a period of dynamic transformation in education, global trade, economy, technology, and society, it is evident that STEM learning and careers stand as the bedrock of the future.” said Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF. 

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