Inaugural Regional STEM Symposium: Improving STEM curriculum and teacher development


On 27 – 30 May 2019, The HEAD Foundation held the inaugural Regional STEM Symposium, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Bangkok, Thailand. Representatives from Ministries of Education and teacher training institutions from Cambodia, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, the Philippines, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam attended the four-day symposium. The symposium was a platform for participants and leading regional experts to share their thoughts on incorporating STEM in the K-12 curriculum, and preparing teachers to be suitable STEM instructors.

Prof Paul Teng

Prof Paul Teng, Managing Director and Dean of the National Institute of Education (NIE) International, kickstarted the symposium with a keynote presentation on the value of STEM.

STEM prepares graduates for the working world in the new landscape of the future; and STEM produces responsible citizens who can make informed citizens in an increasingly technology-enabled society. – Prof Teng

The second day of the symposium saw participants visiting the Engineering Science Classroom housed in KMUTT’s Bangkhuntien Campus, and the Roong Aroon School, to learn how these two innovative schools incorporate STEM, project-based learning and integrated learning in their curriculum. Later in the day, participants heard from leading regional curriculum experts Asst. Prof Komkrit Chomsuwan from KMUTT, Dr Tan Mui Hua from the Science Centre Singapore, and Dr Goh Chor Boon from the National Institute of Education International on how STEM has been incorporated in the K-12 curriculum in Thailand, Singapore and China.

On the third day of the symposium, A/P Teo Tang Wee from meriSTEM@NIE offered some insights on Singapore’s efforts in building up a STEM-focused education system. She also provided structures for constructing a comprehensive STEM curriculum framework and refined and concretised ideas about STEM education.

A/P Teo Tang Wee

Curriculum work is a non-linear process. A framework is not just one document. We don’t come up with curriculum and assessment separately. Everything is connected. Linking the conceptualisation to the framework are many moving parts. You move one gear and other gears move. – A/P Teo

Adding on to A/P Teo’s presentation, A/P Tan Aik Ling, also from meriSTEM@NIE, discussed the concept of integrated STEM and introduced the S-T-E-M Quartet framework which can help teachers implement STEM lessons in the classroom. Dr Parinya Sa-Ngiamsunthorn, Assistant Professor at KMUTT, then spoke about how Thailand prepares its STEM educators.

A/P Tan Aik Ling

The last day of the symposium saw multi-lateral, private and social organisations share about their work in STEM education. Learn Education, UNESCO, PHi Life Center and Microsoft Philanthropies presented on the various programmes and platforms that they have which can augment the state’s efforts in  promoting STEM education.

Before the symposium ended, representatives from each of the seven participating countries presented plans to improve STEM education in their country. It was heartening to hear how the participants have incorporated what they have learnt over the past days in their vision for their countries’ STEM education, and to see their enthusiasm and passion to improve education in their countries.

The HEAD Foundation would like to thank co-organiser ADB, the host, KMUTT, and our knowledge partners: Learn Education; PHi Life Center; STEAM Platform; meriSTEM@NIE; Microsoft Philanthropies; NIE International; Science Centre Singapore and UNESCO Bangkok for making the symposium an enriching experience for the participants.

Click here to access slides and materials from the symposium.
Read our Workshop Report No. 7 “STEM Education: An Overview”.
Read more about our STEM Symposium held in Singapore last year.

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