It’s early Monday morning at IBM in June of 2015, and Ms. Nisagon Khongphaitoon, known to everyone as Dear, is already on the phone calling key stakeholders in the Thai government to learn more about the government’s current plans on the “Thailand 4.0” strategy as it relates to education, and how IBM can help them deliver on their plans. Dear has been tasked by her management team with aligning IBM’s corporate social responsibility activities with the Thailand 4.0 strategy, and she has been busily fielding ideas, vetting potential implementation partners, and exploring IBM solutions that can be brought to bear to support this effort. As a leading innovation company, IBM is very interested in the strong alignment between the government’s plan to build human resources capabilities to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce, and IBMs pressing need for people who can thrive in an agile workplace that requires flexibility, creativity, and collaboration skills, as well as the great technical skills IBM team members, or IBMers, are known for.
Since February 2015, Dear has served as the Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Professional at IBM Thailand, and is responsible for ensuring IBMs values and business needs are met by developing partnerships that leverage IBM’s technology and expertise to solve community problems and improve lives. It took her some time to learn the IBM process for successfully moving a project through their complex system for ensuring that pressing community challenges are met with the right solutions, delivered by the right partner, and at the right time. The stakes for Dear are high, as any misstep could result in a delay in bringing critical IBM solutions to bear, or missing an opportunity for IBMers to “Be Essential” to wherever IBMers work or live, hurting IBM’s image, and creating a large opportunity cost in time and resources. This makes it critical to select the right partner early in the process.
Working with her colleagues in the region and at corporate headquarters, a decision was reached to bring into Thailand an important platform, TeacherTry Science (TTS), that may be able to help teachers better deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lessons, through the use of project-based learning (PBL). Through her stakeholder meetings and IBMs partnership with the Ministry of Education, Dear has learned that teachers are being held back by a lack of STEM subject matter knowledge and the use of outdated classroom pedagogies, such as rote learning. Through these discussions, she was also referred to Kenan Foundation Asia, as a potential partner who had the influence, reputation, and expertise to design and deliver a TTS rollout to the education system in Thailand.
Working with Kenan’s education experts, Dear and the team designed a one year, later expanded to two years, project that localized the TTS resources into the Thai language and mapped it to the Thai curriculum. Critically, the project built teacher capacity in delivering TTS modules using project-based learning, which also helps build a range of 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability, and serves to inspire students to take up STEM careers. Learn how Kenan ignited one student’s 21st century talent, by clicking here.
To date, the Thai TTS project has successfully built the capacity of over 700 teachers in, supported 210 students to attend PBL STEM camps, and 12 IBM volunteers have worked directly with students to develop projects using the PBL pedagogy. The use of IBM volunteers on projects is of particular importance to IBM, as IBM wants to build leaders, and volunteering helps them to understand the business and social challenges they need to address locally and globally. IBM also uses these opportunities to develop important market insights to help develop better tools to solve customer challenges and improve customer solutions, giving IBM an important edge against competitors. It’s critical that any partner know how significant these needs are to IBM, and Kenan’s team has “demonstrated time and again that they understand the challenges and needs of both IBM as a business and driver of social change.”
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