In the final session of our three-part series on Teaching STEM in Southeast Asia, we invited three distinguished educators from across the region in a discussion on Creating a STEM Ecosystem.
Series moderator Dr Frederick Talaue, Associate Professor at the Department of Science Education, De La Salle University opened the discussion with five key questions about forging partnerships in STEM education: What makes a robust ecosystem that fosters STEM education? How are partnerships forged and sustained with schools and other stakeholders? What partnership models will result in mutual benefits for all stakeholders? What are the ways we can evaluate the benefit of STEM programmes? And, can STEM education be used as a space to address issues of environmental and social justice?
Continuing last session’s discussions on developing and supporting STEM teachers, our speakers touched on the importance of building institutional partnerships to prioritise teacher training for relevant and robust STEM education. Dr Pornpun Waitayangkoon, Director of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for STEM Education (SEAMEO STEM-ED), shared how the SEAMEO STEM Education Professionals Academy provides training to pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as education leaders to build up their knowledge of integrating STEM into the classroom and instructional leadership to build a STEM culture in their schools. Similarly, Dr Sheryl Lyn C. Monterola, Director of the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) in the Philippines, shared the benefits of industry immersion programmes for STEM teachers, such as the STEM Teaching Factory. Through touring a local pharmaceutical manufacturing plant and interaction with the plant staff, senior high school teachers gain a first-hand understanding of the skills needed by the STEM industry, and take home unique experiments used in the industry adapted for the classroom.
…STEM education provides a space to address issues of social and environmental justice and uplift the community
Our speakers also touched on the importance and merit of developing industry and community partnerships at every level. Professor Dato’ Dr Noraini Idris, Founder and President of the National STEM Association Malaysia, elaborated on how Malaysia created a robust STEM pipeline to ensure STEM students are funnelled into fulfilling STEM careers. The pipeline involves institutional mentor-mentee programmes, where university students mentor high school students to ignite their interests in STEM, and organising career talks with industry partners. The importance of strong, multi-lateral partnerships to fix the leaky pipeline was echoed by Dr Sheryl, who highlighted the Philippines’ whole-of-system approach of Government-Industry-Education partnerships to create a shared vision for STEM and an integrated STEM agenda. Dr Pornpun reflected a similar ethos in her organisation, with five programmes aimed at developing a robust STEM education impacting students, teachers, education leaders, and even policymakers. Finally, our speakers discussed how STEM education provides a space to address issues of social and environmental justice and uplift the community. Dr Pornpun highlighted how the Centre develops and promotes context-responsive STEM learning resources and learning modules aimed at fulfilling Thailand’s Sustainable Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations. Modules include Climate Smart Agriculture, Dengue Free Southeast Asia, and Indigenous Knowledge for Mitigating Climate Change, to name a few. As part of her Centre’s STEM in TVET initiative, Dr Sheryl elaborated on programmes to promote gender equity in the field such as Women in STEM, held in partnership with the International Labour Organization. Finally, Dato’ Noraini raised the example of the Mini Theatre STEM project by the Association as a successful attempt at raising the competencies and confidence of STEM students from low-income families through incorporating theatre elements in their project-based learning.
The series concluded with a recap of the three sessions and an open discussion between series moderator Dr Frederick and Mr Vignesh Naidu of The HEAD Foundation on the obstacles and opportunities in teaching STEM in Southeast Asia.
Thank you for joining us for all three sessions, and see you in the next series!
Watch all sessions from this Making HEADway webinar series, Teaching STEM in Southeast Asia.
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