The story below is written by Jeounghoon (Jacky) Kang, President & Country Leader of 3M Vietnam, in response to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s ‘Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global’ contest.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we need the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more than ever. From the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine to new technologies to cope with working/studying from home, STEM has helped us overcome various challenges the global pandemic has posed.

Since 2017, STEM has been introduced in the goals set by the Departments of Education and Training of many provinces across the country. As time goes on, it is getting apparent that the government and businesses need to adopt a more sustainable strategy to make science the competitive edge of Ho Chi Minh City workers, which will then further its status in comparison with international labor standards. The suggestions in this regard are offered as follows:

Provide professional training for teachers from kindergarten to high school level:

Teachers should receive free teaching materials and consultations on how to plan and design lessons that do not follow the one-size-fits-all approach.

On that note, it is critical that we should encourage teachers to innovate and not stifle their creativity in designing new instructional methods in order to maximize the student experience.

Concurrently, all teachers should be guaranteed to receive equal professional support, including those who are employed at schools in low-income areas.

Digitize science knowledge and disseminate it free of charge:

We ought to build a digitized platform that compiles science lessons at all levels (introductory to advanced) which can be displayed in the form of infographics, videos, etc.

All information on the platform is to be continuously updated and verified to ensure the degree of accuracy. Moreover, it should be delivered at no cost for users; otherwise, it will not be accessible for some. The platform can also be used to highlight key achievements of Vietnamese scientists to promote a STEM spirit among the public.

Design “science gardens” at elementary and secondary schools:

Every elementary and secondary school should be equipped with a “science garden” to visualize experiments in biology, chemistry, and physics.

The level of depth can be adjusted to fit with the curriculum and conditions offered by schools.

Increase more opportunities to engage with STEM outside of the classroom through summer camps for children:

In doing so, children are allowed to take part in more playful activities while gaining science knowledge through everyday phenomena.

Establish a fund that supports science research for the community:

First, there should be research spaces that are open to the public in Saigon Hi-Tech Park, situated in Thu Duc City, to cater to the needs of university students and independent researchers. The area could be divided into multiple sub-areas in accordance with different science fields: Information Technology – Telecommunications, mechanical engineering and automation, biotechnology, energy-material science.

Individuals who submit their research proposals and receive approvals will have access to such facilities at no charge during their research periods. Corporates that contribute to the fund will join hands in mentoring, recruiting talents and seeking solutions to their businesses.

It is also important to know that the fund could provide information regarding intellectual property so that researchers can be assured about their legal rights upon participation.

A youth-led science community is the future of not only Ho Chi Minh City, but also of Vietnam as a whole. Given Ho Chi Minh City’s role as the economic hub of the country and its years-long investment to build itself as an innovative tech city, it stands a great chance to fulfill this ambition.

Driven by appropriate and sound policies, the city will soon see the day it becomes a potential science center of the region as well as the world.

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