STEM Champions Worldwide Gather to Advance STEM Education in Asia

22 November 2019

Learners speak. Kokoro Nuno, Grade 11 student from Ehime University in Japan, shares her vision on how STEM teaching can be improved in a panel discussion on Integrated STEM in the classroom.

Over 300 international delegates and speakers convened for the first-ever Integrated STEM Leadership Summit in Asia last November 21-24 in Cebu, Philippines. Inviting over 60 high-calibre speakers from USA, Europe, and Asia, the Summit was themed “Strengthening Integrated STEM Through Global Crossvergence”.



A Growing Demand for STEM

Modern industries have been adapting to more technologically advanced methods in manufacturing to cater to 21st century demands. This transition is so rapid that experts have labelled it as the Industrial Revolution 4.0 worldwide, and businesses in the Philippines have begun to realize its effects on their future operations, identifying that 51% of their employees will need upskilling to remain competitive when rote jobs are rapidly replaced with automation. Therefore, securing jobs in the future will depend on skills such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and complex problem solving -- and these skills are best developed through STEM courses.


Seeing the growing disparity between the requirements of future jobs and the students’ readiness, the Summit aimed to strengthen integrated STEM by involving more and more representatives from the Government, Industry, Education sectors. Thus, the Summit highlighted the imperative of working together to advance STEM education for economic development.


The three-day program of the Summit featured panel discussions and workshops and took on a holistic approach in Integrated STEM: its role in building an Industry 4.0- ready workforce, in developing a culture of innovation and engaging women and girls in STEM, in fostering cross-collaboration, building socio-emotional skills in STEM learning and in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Some of the high-calibre speakers and STEM experts gathered to share knowledge and best practices. The elite roster of speakers in various fields and disciplines of STEM from Asia, Europe are as follows: Dr. Steven Swanson, former NASA astronaut and ISS Commander; Dr. Lance Bush, President & CEO of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education; Ms. Victoria Levin, Senior Economist of the World Bank; Dr. Stephen Pruitt, Lead Convenor of the Next Generation Science Standards, and Ms. Lisa Benete from the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office.  


Notably, a separate panel discussion on Integrated STEM in the classroom gathered Senior High School students from Thailand, Japan, and the Philippines, to share first-hand experiences on STEM teaching in the classroom.


Simultaneous breakout sessions were held that discussed topics such as Women in STEM, Entrepreneurship and Open Innovations, Digital Solutions, integration of Agriculture in STEAM, and the like.


Educators Dr. Vijay Kumar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Manabu Sumida of the Japan Society for Science Education; and Mr. Daniel Rouan, President of La main à la pâte Foundation and a member of the French Academy of Sciences, also added depth to the discussions by sharing their own initiatives in STEM education innovation.



Kick-off of the STEM Leadership Alliance-PH

The Summit was able to successfully lay the foundation for building a community of STEM champions working together towards advancing STEM Education and developing a STEM literate workforce that are able to navigate through the increasingly high tech, digital and connected work environment of the future. Additionally, delegates were able to create a more comprehensive plan to develop more scientists, engineers, mathematicians, inventors, and leaders who will soon drive technological innovations and sustainable solutions for the rapidly changing world.


A concrete outcome of the Summit was the kick-off of the STEM Leadership Alliance – Philippine Affiliate (SLA-PH), a broad coalition of industry leaders, educators, government, development partners, non-profit organizations and corporate foundations committed to help strengthen STEM education in the Philippines. The alliance is driven by the common belief that STEM is critical in preparing today’s learners for the work of the future and in nurturing the next generation of scientists and innovators who will address societal problems and contribute to the economic development and poverty alleviation of the country. 


SLA-PH is an extension of the US-based STEM Leadership Alliance, spearheaded in the U.S., by major organizations responsible for guiding learning standards and supporting teacher development in each of the STEM fields. To garner more interest in STEM and ensure participation from various sectors, the alliance is set to convene more and more groups as partners and shareholders in providing a unified voice advocating alignment across government, businesses, schools, and parents’ interests.



The First Integrated STEM Summit in Asia was presented by the US-based STEM Leadership Alliance, and Unilab Foundation, together with Microsoft Philippines, C&E Educational Solutions, HP, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, the Center for Integrated STEM (CISTEM), the University of the Philippines College of Education.


The Summit was also co-convened by the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and endorsed by the Philippine Business for Social Progress, League of Corporate Foundations, Makati Business Club and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Likewise, the Summit was held in partnership with five (5) major educational institutions based in the U.S., namely the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM), the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE). 


The event was supported by STEM+ PH, the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), The Teacher's Gallery, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (USAID STRIDE) program, and Pointwest.


This event was also featured in Business World, Cebu Daily News, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Asia Research News, Eco-business, The Corporate Magazine,, What's Happening.