ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday said Pakistan would have to make utmost efforts to join the global race in technology as it guaranteed national economic development.
He was speaking at the inaugural function of the Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEM) project at the Presidency.
Under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Pakistan Science Foundation is executing the first phase of the STEM project, which is initially being launched in 50 schools across the country, selected on the basis of their excellent academic results achieved during the last three years.
President Alvi said children’s motivation towards science education would create actual wealth for the country, which would later support the industry and IT sector too.
President inaugurates STEM project; minister says programme to be spread throughout country
Calling STEM education dear to him, the president referred to a survey by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), which showed that the interest of Pakistani children towards STEM was comparatively low in the region. He said China produced around 4.7 million STEM graduates annually, India 2.6 million and Iran 0.35 million.
Describing the launching of STEM as a timely step, Dr Alvi called for adopting the required factors for promotion of STEM education which provided the basis for development in organised societies.
Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz said the programme would be spread throughout the country, adding that selected schools would become hubs of STEM education and would serve as model schools for all educational institutions.
Mr Faraz said the country’s prosperity was linked to Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education scheme, adding that schools included in the STEM programme were selected on merit.
“These schools will be equipped with modern facilities and laboratories and faculty will be trained under the new system,” he said, adding that a monitoring mechanism will also be in place to examine the productivity of the programme.
The minister said STEM FABLABS would be set up in all STEM-designated schools, which would have state-of-the-art research facilities and would provide latest resources for digital fabrication.
Speaking on the occasion, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said his office had launched a pilot programme in 35 educational institutions in Islamabad, which would also benefit the Pakistan Science Foundation in the STEM initiative.
He said STEM was also part of a uniform education curriculum, adding that teacher training was of high importance to achieve the desired results.
Earlier, Pakistan Science Foundation Chairman Dr Shahid Baig, while outlining the project, said the field of science and technology played an important role in the development of any country.
“This sector plays an important role in economic development,” he said, adding that the project was being supported by China.
The event was also attended by provincial ministers, diplomats and principals of the STEM-designated schools.
Sensitising public about breast cancer
President Dr Arif Alvi said early diagnosis of breast cancer was the only way to save lives of 40,000 women in the country who fell victim to the disease in a year, adds APP.
He said removing taboos about breast cancer through strong awareness campaigns would encourage women to seek medical help. Along with his wife Samina Alvi, the president in an interactive session with journalists at the Aiwan-i-Sadr highlighted the importance of media’s role in sensitising the public about breast cancer.
In a developing country like Pakistan, prevention is the best way to avoid expensive medical treatment of several diseases, including breast cancer, he said, adding that it was the responsibility of society to give more public space to women by providing them access to facilities, whether relating to education, health or a safer environment free from harassment.
The president urged journalists to join the cause of fighting breast cancer by highlighting the topic in their content so as to make people more aware.
Begum Samina Alvi pointed out that in view of her awareness campaign on breast cancer, the media had been effectively highlighting the subject in their television programmes and newspapers.
She said she would be visiting colleges in different cities this month to raise awareness among girls on self-diagnosis. She also urged male members of the family to realise the suffering attached with the disease and support women to get proper medical care.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said in view of the seriousness of breast cancer, there was a need to strengthen the capacity of relevant health facilities. He said producing an increased number of oncologists and surgeons, and reducing reliance on imported medicine and technology was important in this regard. The government would consider facilitating local production of drugs used in the expensive treatment such as molecular therapies, he added.
Dr Mohammad Asad Pervez, oncologist and consultant at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital said one in every eight women in Pakistan was diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Research suggests that the stage-wise survival rates of breast cancer patients in the span of five years is: Stage 0 (100pc), Stage 1 (98pc), Stage 2 (88pc), Stage 3 (52pc) and Stage 4 (16pc).
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2021