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Gender gaps must be addressed in STEAM education: UNICEF
Minh Nguyen 22:42, 2023/08/27
Early engagement in STEAM would enable Vietnam to be well-prepared in the fast-changing world with transferable skills for sustainable growth.

Gender gaps in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) must be tackled throughout schooling, starting in preschool, rather than through catch-up policies or programs once a young woman enters the labor market.

 Le Anh Lan, Education Specialist of UNICEF Vietnam speaks at the event held in Hanoi on August 27. Photos: UNICEF Vietnam. 

Le Anh Lan, Education Specialist of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), shared the view at STEAMese Festival 2023 held at Phenikaa University, Hanoi today [August 27] by STEAM for Vietnam, UNICEF in Vietnam, and the American Centers.

The event promotes the importance of early and equal STEAM education for children and adolescents, especially girls – starting at the preschool level.

“The evidence points to specific challenges for girls and young women as gender differences begin even before birth, and similarly gender gaps in STEAM begin early,” Lan said.

For that reason, advancing and investing in STEAM education and transferrable skills is a key priority for Vietnam, and one to which UNICEF is deeply committed – for both boys and girls, she added.

Accordingly, encouraging girls’ aspirations in STEAM is critical as it supports a holistic approach to skills, career exploration, and pathways to employment that are responsive to adolescent girls and young women, Lan emphasized.

 Children are eager to join STEAM-related lessons. 


Importance of STEAM education

Local and international educators and experts have stressed the importance of STEAM in promoting a future-responsive education for all.

Therefore, it’s necessary to mobilize forces for girls’ access and participation in STEAM education. STEAMese Festival is an innovative event to reimagine education in the country through the power of STEAM.

The experts argued that children and young people are growing up in an uncertain time as the world grapples with the 4.0 era and its impact on jobs, the ongoing climate crisis, and increases in post-pandemic youth unemployment.

The world of work has changed, the skills young people need today are vastly different to the memory-based learning of a decade ago. The drivers of change necessitate a re-think of traditional education and learning paths and a transformation of education, skills, and gender stereotypes.

STEAM education also has the potential to contribute to personal empowerment, progressing communities and nations, and building economies for the future.

The climate crisis, coupled with the recent pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of economies and education systems, as companies and governments rapidly deploy digital services and increasingly innovate in response to resource scarcity. In this context, young people, governments, and business leaders across the region often report a severe skills gap within STEAM.

 Children from all minorities are encouraged to be part of STEAM education. 

In Vietnam, like in many other countries, the underrepresentation of girls and women in STEAM is often rooted in unequal gender norms that reinforce a false belief that girls are not cut out for problem-solving and an inquisitive mind.

Often held by parents, teachers, employers, and the community, the stereotypes are linked with various societal pressures that lead to adolescent girls’ and women’s lower participation in STEAM careers.

“Quality and equal STEAM education for all children, especially girls, is of absolute importance,” said Nguyen Phuong Thuy, Co-founder of STEAM for Vietnam Foundation.

STEAM for Vietnam Foundation’s mission is to bring advanced STEAM education to Vietnamese children aged six to 18, building on cutting-edge technologies, innovative educational models, and enhanced teachers’ capacity.

“This festival is a highlight in our journey to promote equal access for all children to free STEAM education of international standards,” she stated.  

Speaking at the event, Kate Bartlett, Cultural Affairs Officer, US Embassy in Hanoi, said the US Mission in Vietnam is committed to supporting the country’s efforts to improve the quality of its higher education and produce a 21st-century workforce ready to engage globally.

“By working closely with like-minded partners, we can achieve so much more. Vietnamese youth are energetic, talented, and ambitious global citizens. There is no limit to their potential,” she shared. 

Parents and teachers are called upon to work together to dismantle the barriers that girls and

disadvantaged children face unlocking their potential to become shapers and creators of contemporary scientific knowledge and new technologies. 

The event hosted talk shows and discussions among national and international experts, policymakers, and schools, sharing lesson design methods and teaching materials with teachers so that they can foster their teaching knowledge and learn from experiences in curricular design.

STEAM for Vietnam Foundation is an American non-profit organization founded and operated by Vietnamese experts living and working in many countries, with the mission of bringing STEAM education to 20 million Vietnamese students in the next 5 years. The foundation has successfully delivered eight programs on Programming, Robotics and Arts in seven semesters to more than 35,000 registered students from 63 provinces in Vietnam and 33 countries around the world.

 Girls are interested in some experiments. 
TAG: Vietnam news unicef vietnam steam education in vietnam steam for vietnam foundation American Center Hanoi phenikaa university
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