featurebuilding a nation of makers,
young scientists in Thailand
After its first year, our Thailand Partnership Initiative is on target toward its goal of strengthening the country’s competitiveness and innovation by improving students’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and vocational education.
Over its five-year duration, Enjoy Science aims to improve STEM instruction for more than 600 schools and develop the capability of more than 10,000 teachers. By providing increased career opportunities, the program will also directly benefit more than 500,000 students, teachers, principals, government education officials and workers.
student workshop participant, Samut Prakan province
“Strong partnership with key government stakeholders was critical to the success of the program’s first year,” said Brad Middleton, managing director of the Asia South business unit. “Through Enjoy Science, Chevron is helping to meet Thailand’s future workforce needs. In addition to creating excitement among students, parents and teachers about STEM, we are developing technical and educational training by partnering with Thai industries.”
STEM education is particularly important to Thailand, especially as it is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community. The community aims to create a highly integrated, cohesive economy among the 10 members of the ASEAN. While Thailand is projected to require a large increase in the number of skilled employees in STEM-related fields in the coming decades, about 30 percent of graduates have a STEM-related degree. There is currently a growing shortage of qualified workers. The new STEM-related jobs will be higher paying and have better prospects for long-term career growth. Improving STEM education is therefore critical to developing skilled, innovative contributors to Thailand’s economy.
Teacher training for STEM focuses on inquiry-based teaching techniques through which students are challenged with questions, problems or scenarios, rather than being presented with factual information. This approach has proven to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which stimulate lifelong learning.
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Known locally as Enjoy Science, the initiative has reached more than 200 schools and some 30,000 students, and established five training hubs.
Activities are also organized to create awareness and interest in STEM. In September 2015, Chevron and the National Science and Technology Development Agency organized Thailand’s first Maker Faire – a do-it-yourself science extravaganza. In 2016 events like STEM career roadshows, technology contests and university trips for children were conducted while a second Maker Faire is being planned. Research conducted with key stakeholders in late 2015 indicated that Enjoy Science has been successful in elevating Chevron’s reputation. The program scored high in all three categories, with about two-thirds of stakeholders indicating their awareness of Enjoy Science. Of those aware, 60 percent correctly identified Chevron’s role in the program.
“Inquiry-based learning requires me to teach students through practical activities, rather than just through explaining, which I believe motivates students,” said Napapat Pimdee, a science teacher at Mancha Suksa School. “With these skills, teachers can assess whether their students actually understand critical math and science concepts.”
Published: September 2016