Education in Pakistan hasn’t got the best reputation, especially when it comes to teaching practical skills in the fields of Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, generally referred to as STEM.
The methods of teaching haven’t changed much despite the influx of modern technology. Even now, they are mostly based on instilling information in the minds of children through repetitive learning rather than actually imparting any useful knowledge.
Recently, a number of innovative academies have popped up that promise to teach develop a problem-solving mindset that encourages critical out-of-the-box thinking. One such name is RoboMinors, an STEM-focused academy that wants to inspires young minds in Pakistan to pursue STEM-related careers.
RoboMinors has been founded by Dr. Mansoor Shaukat, a PhD from the National University of Singapore and the current CEO of RoboMinors. We got in touch with him to find out more about his academy and how it plans to challenge the current norms of education in Pakistan.
“When I was living in Singapore I was captivated by the extensive technological and art exposure my son received at school,” said Mansoor. “An exposure that, unfortunately, does not prevail in the education system of Pakistan and henceforth, children’s genuine interests are overlooked.”
When he came to Pakistan, he along with some other experienced and knowledgeable individuals decided to use their expertise in bringing high-quality exposure in STEM education to the students of Pakistan and formed RoboMinors. Mansoor’s experience as the head of the robotics club called CRG at CASE University— a leading robotics group in Pakistan with 44 national titles and 9 international representations— further solidified his belief in launching his own STEM initiative.
Together, the founders and the think tank of the company consist of 6 PhDs. Moreover, the company’s mentors are Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) accredited engineers and with certification from LEGO Education Academy.
What is RoboMinors and what do they do?
They provide robotics based STEM solutions to educational institutions in Pakistan. They want to develop and implement an immersive experience based learning environment via robotics.
Their activities are conducted at their own campus in the NISTE building, in sector H8 in Islamabad, with high-tech and state-of-the-art classrooms purpose built specifically for different age groups.
“We provide purpose built and age appropriate classrooms for each age group at our campus which have been inspired by Finland’s education system. The classrooms built for older students are different from those built for younger students,” he added.
Apart from their own campus activities, they also engage in setting up after-school robotics clubs in collaboration with several schools in Islamabad.
What courses do they offer?
They offer courses in three forms; Weekend School, Winter School, and Summer School. Aptly named, the winter and summer schools are limited courses that run for a couple of weeks during the vacation periods. Weekend School, on the other hand, runs throughout the year.
Currently on offer, the weekend school courses are divided into three separate age groups. They include everything from teaching 10-year-olds how to make a robust structure by making it earthquake-resistant using LEGO bricks to controlling robotics using MATLAB.
- Juniors – Grade 1 to 4
1. LEGO WeDo 2.0
2. LEGO Simple & Powered Machines
- Seniors – Grade 4 to O-Levels
1. Game Dev. using Microsoft Kodu
2. LEGO EV3
3. LEGO Simple & Powered Machines
- University Students
1. Robotics & Control with MATLAB
The cost of a single course is around a few thousand rupees and varies with each course.
Mansoor, the CEO of RoboMinors, says that the response they have received has been overwhelmingly positive. They already knew that although children are excited to learn at the beginning of the course, the dropout rate starts to increase as they get further into the course. However, that has not been the case over here.
“We have seen that children’s interest grows exponentially once they start building different things themselves, and their excitement becomes a catalyst in attracting more children into our programs,” – Mansoor.
Talking about the awareness of STEM education in Pakistan, he said that there is still a lot of work to be done. To tackle that, they conduct free seminars where everyone is welcome to attend. They also showcase robots to aid the promotion of STEM education.
Ventures like RoboMinors show us the real and innovative face of entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Their goal is not just to pull in millions of dollars or become the most popular company around but to arm a whole new generation of children with knowledge that can actually help them in their future endeavors.