In Europe, TCS has put together a program to promote STEM learning, building on our experience of the goIT program in North America. With the support of TCS in North America, our Europe team has tailored the program to be conducted over a period of 8-12 weeks. In February 2015, we launched the first pilot in Sweden, debuting it along with two public schools.
Since then, we have expanded the program to engage students from three public schools. Of these, the last has – in contrast to the others – a higher proportion of students from underprivileged backgrounds. Only 50% of these kids graduated with grades that would qualify them for admission to upper secondary schools, and only 40% were proficient in technology-related subjects.
The fact worth highlighting about goIT Sweden is that children from all three schools are mixed into project teams and collaborate under the guidance of TCS volunteers. At the same time, the older students act as mentors, and serve as role models for continued STEM education for the younger pupils.
The challenge with this pilot was also how to make the benefits of the program reach beyond its immediate recipients. Therefore, inspirational lectures were incorporated at the beginning of every workshop in Sweden, with volunteers sharing personal insights and experiences about working in the IT field with the wider student audience.
With the Swedish pilot showing great promise, the Europe team extended the program to Finland and Germany in 2016. In both countries, the implementation of goIT demanded that the basic concept – drawing on both the US and Swedish experiences – had to be tailored to fit local needs, and the needs of each type of school.
So, the school in Finland held activity days to showcase the students’ projects to their entire school, while teachers at the German school arranged extra training sessions in-house. As a result of our positive experiences from deploying goIT in Sweden, Finland, and Germany, the next European country to adapt the program will be Italy – starting from autumn 2017.