Chevron partners with public, private sectors on STEM training. With the aim of helping increase Thailand's competitiveness, Chevron recently rolled out an "Enjoy Science Project", working with public and private partners to strengthen Thailand's innovation by improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and vocational education across the country.

Enjoy Science has long-term goals to develop Thailand's STEM workforce sustainability. It is a five-year project with an investment of US$30 million (Bt1 billion). It involves a range of partners in civil society, academia, the private sector and the government, said Brad Middleton, managing director of Chevron Asia South.

"This programme is one of five major economic-development initiatives undertaken across Chevron's global operations," he said.

The plan is to develop STEM teachers and establish STEM and technical training hubs nationwide in order to build 21st-century workforce skills for people in STEM-related industries such as automotive, energy and agriculture.

Middleton said these kinds of educational and workforce developments were significant for the country's development, especially in preparation for the launch of the Asean Economic Community.

He said the Enjoy Science Project would help improve STEM instruction in more than 600 schools, develop the capability of more than 10,000 teachers and directly benefit more than 500,000 students, teachers, principals, government education officials and workers, providing increased career opportunities and higher wages.

To accomplish Enjoy Science's goal, it works through three approaches: STEM capacity building of teachers and students; workforce development through vocational education; and awareness and partnership building for STEM and vocational education.

The first approach targets teachers and school administrators for the Grade 7-9 levels in math and science.

"Our goal is to promote critical thinking skills, inquiry and creativeness. The training is to focus on building a strong math and science foundation in students in order to pave the way for technology-based and engineering jobs," Middleton said.

It plans to develop 12 STEM hubs across the country. Three of these will be launched this year as the first phase.

The second approach is to build the capacity of vocational teachers and administrators from Grade 10 to the post-secondary level, developing interactive and practical training and curricula that meet industry needs.

It aims to develop six technical training hubs across the country to leverage vocational education and prepare students for industrial careers.

Third, the project will engage public- and private-sector stakeholders to raise awareness about the importance of STEM and vocational education, for example, to create a common platform, vision and road map and to hold high-level events, conferences, seminars and awards programmes.

Middleton said that to create awareness for STEM, the project had kicked off two activities, "Let's Print the World" and "Bangkok Mini Maker Faire".

"Let's Print the World" is a competition on 3D printing technology, for which 149 entries have been received from across the country. The winners will be announced this Saturday at the Bangkok Mini Maker Faire. Winners will get a chance to visit and showcase their works at Maker Faire Berlin in October.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Mini Maker Faire is the first ever "Maker Faire" in Thailand, showcasing innovations by local makers nationwide. Previous maker events were small and limited to only people in the field. The fair is organised by Chevron and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), as well as local makers. It will run next weekend in Siam Square.

"More than 80 maker groups from across the country applied to participate in the event. It is a free fair that has various activities including live demonstrations on the main stage and activity space, seminars, a post-event maker party and more," Middleton said.

Among Enjoy Science's goals for this year are the launch of three STEM hubs through expanding partnerships to Khon Kaen University, Rajabhat Rajanagarindra University in Chachoengsao, and Songkhla Rajabhat University and to sign memoranda of understanding with 192 schools in those three provinces.

Also, it aims to have 185 school leaders trained with 21st-century skills in learning and management approaches; 743 teachers trained with "inquiry-based learning" methods, and enhanced STEM curricula; and 15,942 students participating and engaged in STEM awareness events such as fairs, caravans and exhibitions.

Education investment

Chevron has been investing in education at all levels in Thailand. At the university level, the company has provided funding to support students, instructors, and petroleum engineering and geo-science courses.

Chulalongkorn University's Master of Science Programme in Petroleum Geo-science was launched in 2008 by Chevron Thailand and PTT Exploration and Production to help fulfil the growing demand for qualified petroleum geo-scientists in Thailand.

Chevron Thailand and PTTEP provided Bt300 million for the programme's first phase from 2009 to 2013, supporting international lecturers, scholarships, research work and improvements to the Geo-science Library. The programme's success resulted in another Bt150 million being allocated for its second phase from 2014 to 2018.

Meanwhile, at the technical-training level, the company has established the Settapat Training Centre in Songkhla. There have been 350,000 trainees and graduates since 1980.

Chevron has partnered with Kenan Institute Asia to create the Chevron Inquiry-based Classroom Reasoning for Experiential and Active Science Education project (Chevron-INCREASE) in Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon and Surat Thani since 2013.

The project continues to improve the way science is taught in the schools, including through the development of inquiry-based science curricula, a series of instructional leadership workshops for school principals, professional development for science teachers to adopt the new curricula, and classroom mentoring by senior science-teacher mentors trained by Kenan.

Partners of Chevron's Enjoy Science are Kenan Institute Asia, the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, NSTDA, the National Science Museum, the Office of the Basic Education Commission, the Office of the Vocational Education Commission, the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology, and the Labour Ministry's Department of Skills Development.