STEM skills are essential for workforces in a modern and innovation-oriented society. Since 2015, the State Council and the Ministry of Education in China have issued a number of policy documents to promote the development of STEM education across the country. Their purpose is to close the growing gap between the skills that industry needs and the skills that the education system enables learners to develop. Technology is changing rapidly and unpredictably and this is still a big challenge for any organisation.
Arm Education launched the Arm School Program (ASP) in 2018. ASP works with key partners on initiatives to help close the STEM skills gap. Through our learning resources and training, our goal is to empower all learners with the opportunity to develop the interest, skills, and knowledge that enable a lifetime of engagement in STEM.
Partnership is at the heart of our School Program in China. We offer relevant education materials and technologies to our partners to support innovation and talent development. Through our education partnership ecosystem, ASP has successfully set up sustainable collaboration with Chinese education institutes, primary and secondary schools, technology partners, distributors, and publishers, to keep pace with technological change. Last year, we cooperated with key partners to launch a series of activities, including workshops for teachers and pupils, pilot schools, innovation design contests, and so on.
STEM education, which is incorporated within the national strategic development policy, has been booming in China in recent years. The 13th Five-Year Plan of Education Informatization from the Ministry of Education clearly points out that we should actively explore the application of information technology to new educational models, such as ‘maker spaces’. With support from the government, more and more schools have set up AI labs with state-of-the-art products and tools, such robotics. Currently, however, many labs are not being fully utilised to teach classes, but only used for the purpose of show. There is often more of a focus on making a lab look great with fancy products, instead of demonstrating how to teach STEM, what educational content to use and how to maximise educational impact. To help schools out, ASP is developing a STEM program which emphasizes meeting the various needs of different schools.
Additionally, China's STEM education also faces other challenges:
In order to introduce Arm China's latest technology into schools, Arm started a pilot STEM program. Over the course of the last year, ten primary and secondary schools were selected as the first Arm pilot schools. On April 26, the ceremony of ‘Chongqing Renmin Primary School-Arm China Innovation Laboratory’ was successfully held in Chongqing Renmin Primary School. Cecille EI Beleidi, Consul General of the British in Chongqing, attended the ceremony and explained how it played an important and positive role in strengthening computer programming education collaboration between Chongqing and the UK. Read more about this event in my recent blog post here.
Most of the teachers involved in STEM have no science or technology education background and have not received professional STEM training. A key difference between STEM teachers and traditional teachers is that the former require confidence in a mix of different disciplines. Consequently, training for existing teachers, to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need, is key to the success of STEM education in schools. This is why ASP has delivered a series of hands-on training workshops, aimed at improving the pedagogical understanding of science and technology teachers across the country, including in cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Nanjing. The training includes examples of STEM projects, which are designed to cover a range of different STEM skills and knowledge, and are delivered with a Project-Based Learning pedagogical approach. The projects and activities have been highly praised by local teachers. Many participants said that the workshops had provided them with good guidance on how to effectively integrate STEM practices into their teaching.
As a part of Arm’s corporate and social responsibilities, ASP is also actively involved in supporting educational public welfare. Every year, Arm China ‘coding club’ regularly visits the migrant children's school in Minhang district, Shanghai, to bring a fun and interesting programming experience to its teachers and pupils. Responding to national policy, ASP also went into Puge County, Sichuan Province, to introduce Arm's latest STEM education course to schools of the Yi people in Daliangshan, ‘The Great Cool Mountains’, where STEM education is relatively weak.
Arm Education also supports various innovative challenge competitions, including the first Shanghai Youth Artificial Intelligence Challenge and the fifteenth Shanghai Future Engineer Competition. Since the announcement of the AI Challenge in May last year, after six months of planning and implementation, it has attracted more than one hundred schools and thousands of students from all over the city. Following two practice competitions, 136 teams and more than 400 students participated in the live finals. All these contests provide innovative activities and exhibition platforms for young students to gain experience and create technology in contexts that run from the everyday, all the way to the cutting-edge.
"Arm China Academy(Arm学堂)” WeChat public account is the official media channel and maker resource sharing platform of ASP China. The teaching achievements and excellent case studies from Arm Education's partners, as well as various types of unique activities carried out, have all been promoted through the WeChat platform. This has enhanced and expanded the awareness of ASP China ecosystem.
Arm launched the Arm School Program in 2018 to address the challenges in STEM in China, including curriculum design and teacher shortage. After one year of effort, ASP has built strong relationships with key partners in China to promote STEM, for instance the China Association of Children’s Science Instructors, the China Institute of Electronics, the Chinese Junior Academy of Science, and our pilot schools. Next, we will integrate expert resources to systematically develop more curricula, supported by both online and offline teaching scenarios. The digital future is coming, and Arm technology will be at its heart. It is vital for all learners to know the importance of STEM as society heads towards this future, and the Arm School Program’s work demonstrates Arm’s commitment to enabling positive transformation in schools across China.
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