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Unlocking Potential: The Space Education Revolution in India

by Narayan Bhargava (Founder and Managing Director, Narayan Bhargava Group)
Dec 28, 2023
Unlocking Potential: The Space Education Revolution in India, Article, KonexioNetwork.com

As India navigates through the Amrit Kaal, the next twenty-five years will be of prime importance for the country to transition as a developed nation. Our nation's space power would prove to be one of the most important building blocks. With a unique confluence of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talent, cost-competitive technology development, space missions and conducive policies, India is well-positioned to leverage its space sector for growth. Prime Minister Modi’s clarion call to build a space station by 2035 and landing of an Indian on Moon by 2040, ushers in a new era for the Indian space industry.

India's Space Legacy is impressive, boasting numerous achievements and international acclaim which has instilled a sense of pride and aspiration among our youth. Harnessing this national pride can propel India further in the field of space education. India’s recent successful launch of Chandrayaan 3 has gained a significant global recognition. This achievement represents an important moment in India's scientific and technological journey, elevating the nation's standing in the field of space exploration. Chandrayaan 3's success is more than just a milestone; it reflects India's unwavering commitment to advancing its space program and securing a prominent position in deep space exploration and propel humanity to become an inter-planetary civilization.

The coming decade will significantly boost the space industry, driven by public-private partnerships, a thriving start-up ecosystem, and increased private sector participation in space commercialization and deep space explorations. The academia-industry-government would increasingly start collaborating with innovative engagement models. The Indian Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), the nation's space regulatory body, projects the Indian space economy to reach approximately $44 billion, including an anticipated $11 billion in exports over the next decade, constituting 8% share of the global space industry from current 2 percent. This accelerated growth will require million of highly skilled professionals, including scientists, engineers, astronomers, astronauts, astrophysicists, and space entrepreneurs, to expand the horizons of Indian space industry.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that Indian schools currently lack a space education curriculum tailored to young minds. The need for a space education revolution in Indian schools is more pressing than ever. Space education is of paramount importance, not only for nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers but also for instilling critical thinking, multi-disciplinary collaboration, application oriented mindset, a global perspective, and a profound understanding of our planet's place in the universe. Given India's rich history of space exploration, our nation has a unique opportunity to harness the passion and curiosity surrounding this field to shape the future of education.

The Significance of Space Education extends beyond conventional classrooms and textbooks, offering activity-based experiential learning for maximizing the learning outcomes. In an era increasingly dominated by technology, space education cultivates invaluable skills essential for the modern workforce. Problem-solving, innovation, teamwork, and adaptability are among the key attributes nurtured by space education. Additionally, it's important to recognize that space education equips students with knowledge and skills relevant to a wide array of careers in the fields of oceanography, geology, deep space expeditions, commercial LEO (low earth orbit) satellites, material science, space tourism etc. Space education also fosters a global perspective, imparting knowledge about Earth's fragility and the importance of international cooperation in space exploration. In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, understanding the global context is vital, and space education inherently provides this perspective. Students who grasp space sciences and exploration are more likely to become global citizens, aware of the interconnectedness of all life systems on Earth. Hence, developing a long term space education program is important to develop a career path for students. 

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been a key player in the success of our space missions. The organization has also been actively engaging with schools and colleges to promote space education. IIRS-ISRO Outreach Program focusses on strengthening the Academia and User Segments in Space Technology & its Applications using online learning platforms.

It is now imminent for the Indian education ecosystem to proactively introduce space education into their curricula 7th standard onwards. Also, potential investors and private entities in India's space technology sector can step forward to support the educational initiatives. The government, private companies, and space organizations like ISRO should work in alliances to create long term programs, scholarships, and initiatives that support space education.

Furthermore, corporate CSR funding has the potential to significantly accelerate space education in India. By allocating corporate CSR funds and forging alliances, India can inspire the forthcoming generation, strengthen its standing in the realms of space science and technology, and catalyze innovation and economic growth.

India has a great opportunity to lead in space education. We can create a highly skilled workforce capable of solving complex global problems and pushing the boundaries of science and technology contributing to the multi-trillion dollar global space economy.