Tag Archives: UNESCO

Girls and Women in STEM in Asia: UNESCO Report

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

Curriki was very pleased to be in attendance on March 9th when UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education unveiled their report on girls and women in STEM fields, at the Bangkok Science Center for Education in Thailand.

Titled “A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia”, the report examines the status of girls studying math, science and engineering subjects in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, and the current state of employment for women in STEM fields. The report was based on in-depth country studies from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam, in conjunction with other statistics from the region. The full 122-page report is freely available here on the UNESCO Bangkok web site.

Key Findings 


The highest level message of the report is that “early and targeted intervention through education can greatly facilitate girls’ and women’s increased participation in STEM fields”.

While there are a number of interesting variations among the 7 countries studied, substantial consistency was found across a number of key findings.

  • Overall there is a shortage of talent on STEM fields in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Globally, fewer than 30% of STEM researchers are women.
  • Gender differences in STEM topics become especially apparent around age 15, during secondary school education.
  • The gender gap at the secondary level correlates with under-representation of women in STEM during higher education and in the workforce.
  • Within the STEM fields, both in higher education and in the workforce, women tend to be found primarily in biology, chemistry and medicine.
  • Women are very lightly represented in physics, engineering and computer science/IT.
  • These latter fields are more math-intensive, and in school girls report more anxiety around, and lower interest levels in, mathematics.
  • There are fewer female teachers in STEM, implying fewer role models for girls.
  • Gender stereotypes are widespread in teaching and learning materials for STEM subjects.


A few of the recommendations from the report are:

“Teacher education and policies on recruitment must ensure a fair representation of both male and female teachers in all subjects, including mathematics and science, at all levels if education.

  • Teacher education… should be transformed to ensure that teachers are trained in gender-responsive teaching strategies.
  • Promoting more female role models in STEM, whether female teachers…female students and faculty members in higher education, and more broadly more women working in STEM fields, is an important strategy.

Curricula and learning materials should undergo further rigorous review from a gender perspective to ensure that they do not perpetuate gender stereotypes.”

Curriki is particularly interested in the last of these recommendations. We have tens of thousands of STEM materials at www.curriki.org, available for free, to support STEM education for girls and boys in Asia and around the world. We encourage you to upload STEM materials onto the Curriki web site, especially those that show equal participation of girls and boys in STEM learning roles, across the various disciplines, and that reflect both men and women as role models, equally. If you have such materials to upload, Curriki and our large, global educator and learner community will be most appreciative.

Curriki’s Top Ten Projects for 2010 (Message from the Executive Director)


At this time of the year, everyone is providing you with lists of the best or worst from 2009. Education and educational technology have their share of lists including best educational software, best blogs and 20 innovative technology leaders.  So it seems appropriate for me to use this first blog of 2010 to share with you the best ideas for Curriki for 2010.

Looking ahead, Curriki has an ambitious agenda for achieving some very important goals that reflect the Top Ten Projects for 2010. These goals reflect the best thinking of our community and our staff.  The projects will help to grow the community and the repository, and will facilitate the delivery of and access to high quality educational curricula.

The Top Ten Projects for 2010 include:

  1. Build a comprehensive K–12 core curriculum that is high-quality, standards-aligned, free, open and sharable
  2. Provide standards alignment capability so members can reference resources based on state (or subject) specific standards
  3. Develop a “Curriki Educator” program for professional development around open and shared content that addresses teacher effectiveness
  4. Improve the Curriki platform to enable a best-in-class user experience
  5. Grow the community through expanded use of social networking facilities such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  6. Create additional content and curriculum tools that allow for the development and sharing of student activities
  7. Provide activities parents can do with their children around the core content in the Curriki repository
  8. Link assessment data to the Curriki content repository so content selection is driven by student test results and collaborate feedback of the curricula
  9. Provide new tools for easily building and using specialized collections

10. Build an open and shared curricula community that will change the way we think about teaching and learning

These important Curriki projects are carefully aligned with the goals of many organizations that are the change agents for education in 2010.

Race to the Top: The Washington Post quoted Secretary Duncan as saying that he plans to use the Race to the Top funds; “to really challenge states and partner with them to dramatically raise standards . . . and think very differently about how we recruit great teachers, reward them, recognize and incent them.”

NASBE Rethinking the Role of Instructional Materials:  “As the use of digital and open content becomes more prevalent, state boards of education will need to more seriously consider the knowledge and skills students need to effectively and safely navigate and contribute to online content in all its forms (text, image, video, audio).”

CCSSO – Common Core State Standards Initiative:  “Forty-nine states and territories have joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center and CCSSO in partnership with Achieve, Inc, ACT and the College Board. It builds directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensures that these standards can be internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries around the world.”

UNESCO – OER Research Agenda Discussion Report: “The promise of OER, then, resides not only in the resources themselves, but also in developing the conceptual framework and methodological approaches that organize, manage and ascribe meaning to them. This is the reason for seeking to develop a research agenda for OER: to support resource development and use in the most effective manner possible.”

Curriki is truly a collaborative community that depends on the contributions of each member, user, contributor and visitor.  In 2010, the success of our Top Ten Projects will depend on YOU!  I hope you are ready to help.

Bobbi Kurshan

Executive Director


Twitter: @Curriki

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This month in OER and Online Ed

This month the news and blogosphere were abuzz with talk about recent open education and online education developments across the globe. Here’s a quick recap:

UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education (July 5-8, 2009)—World leaders and education experts gathered in Paris to discuss recent global higher education developments and a vision for the future of post secondary ed. Emphasizing the continuing need for initiatives aimed at improving educational equity and access, the conference Final Communique states:

  • Our ability to realize the goals of Education For All is dependent upon our ability to address the worldwide shortage of teachers.  Higher education must scale up teacher education, both pre-service and in-service, with curricula that equip teachers to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills they need in the twenty-first century. This will require new approaches, including open and distance learning (ODL) and information and communications technologies (ICTs).
  • ODL approaches and ICTs present opportunities to widen access to quality education, particularly when Open Educational Resources are readily shared by many countries and higher education institutions.
  • The results of scientific research should be made more available through ICTs in addition to open access to scientific literature.

OER Discovery 2009 (July 10, 2009)—At a conference hosted by ccLearn and the Open Society Institute, OER movers and shakers gathered to discuss existing and needed search solutions that will enable people to better find the OER materials they looking for. Two search tools discussed were DiscoverEd and OER Recommender.

US Government to increase Community College Funding and the Development of an Online Skills Lab (July 14, 2009)—President Obama announced a new $12 billion federal government initiative to strengthen US community colleges and called for five million added graduates by 2020. As part of the American Graduate Initiative, the government plans to fund and a develop a new Online Skills Lab that will provide free online courses to community colleges across the nation, as well as the Defense Department’s distributed learning network.

Harvard Goes Digital with Scribd
(July 17, 2009)—Keep an eye on Scribd as Jon Stokes of ars technica points out that Harvard University Press will publish 1000 books on Scribd. He writes:

  • Harvard is once again in the news for something besides losing gargantuan amounts of money, with Harvard University Press’s recent announcement that it will publish a selection of titles digitally through Scribd. Does Harvard’s move (both the losing money part and the going digital part) represent the future of academic publishing?

More updates next month!