26 September 2022 ─ Southeast Asian Minister of Education Organization Regional Centre for STEM Education (SEAMEO STEM-ED); Northern Institute of Vocational Education in Agriculture (NIVEA); and Shandong Dolang Technology Equipment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in a hybrid mode to strengthen competencies and Experience in smart agriculture for vocational college educators and learners ─ by utilizing modern technology and innovation.
NIVEA is an educational institution established on 9 November 2013, under the “Vocational and Technical Education Act (VTEA)” ─ with a mission to manage and develop both teaching theories and practices, as well as enhance educators’ capabilities of nine northern Thailand agriculture vocational institutes. In addition, NIVEA also connects its network to the international community for collaboration.
Shandong Dolang Technology Equipment Co., Ltd. (referred to as “Dolang”) is a teaching equipment manufacturer and software products developer for vocational education founded in Jinan City, Shandong Province, China in 1998. With over 20 years of expertise in Research and Development (R&D), production, sales, and systematic overall solutions, Dolang is also China's largest vocational education solution provider. Dolang is the only manufacturer in China that was selected as a training teaching equipment manufacturer for Worlddidac (a global trade association for the educational resources industry).
With modern challenges in agriculture practices, skills, knowledge, and production together with strong global competition, many countries are now utilizing technology and innovation to strengthen their competitiveness. Thailand’s objectives include adapting to the challenges, developing new talents in the area, as well as striving to be the world’s leader in agriculture and food production. The country believes educators’ capacity building is crucial in establishing strong foundations for Thai agriculture in the future. Thus, technology and innovation are important factors to determine its sustainable growth.
Leading to this collaboration, the involved parties are aware that STEM education is one of the main contributors to Thailand’s agricultural development whilst “STEM Career Academies” (the academies founded to assist and develop youth by equipping them with necessary competencies and Experience towards professional careers in education, smart agriculture, health and wellness, and technology) will contribute to Thailand’s competitiveness and sustainable development in agriculture.
H.E. Dr. Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, Deputy Minister of Education (MoE) of Thailand underscored how this collaboration (between SEAMEO STEM-ED, NIVEA, and Dolang) correlates with MoE’s Science Technology Innovation (STI): Smart Intensive Farming Program which focuses on capitalizing on technology and innovation to advance Thai agriculture. She also explained how Thailand’s foundation is built upon agriculture ─ as it is also the main sector of the national economy.
The MoE Deputy Minister also stated how this MoU will lead to knowledge and technology dissemination to Thai vocational colleges in the northern region. Furthermore, this will help strengthen the capacity of the centre which serves as the hub to provide professional development for vocational college educators ─ and it will set a new standard for other agricultural vocational colleges in the country.
“I hope that this collaboration will push forward Thai smart agriculture and youth development in agriculture,” H.E. Sophonpanich highlighted.
SEAMEO STEM-ED Centre Director, Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkoon in her opening remarks highlighted that the collaboration marked an emphasis on STEM-incorporated education which will lead to professional development. The capacity-building standard from this collaboration is ensured by the long history of Dolang’s establishment, at the same time technology and innovation from Dolang will be transferred to other institutions under the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC).
“This collaboration is in line with the MOE’s Smart Intensive Farming Programme and it will utilize the Career Academies model to establish the first-ever STEM Career Academies in smart agriculture at Lamphun College of Agriculture and Technology (LCAT),” the SEAMEO STEM-ED Centre Director said.
President of Dolang Technology Equipment, Jiang Zuodong who joined virtually, cited the company’s mission of "making technical contributions to education," while remarking on the determination to utilize the company’s expertise in nurturing education and enhancing the industry’s technology. The Dolang President added that this collaboration (between SEAMEO STEM-ED, NIVEA, and Dolang) opens a new door to internationalization as it will produce much innovation and development for vocational colleges.
“Colleges and universities will work together to build a long-term system for international exchanges and cooperation in vocational education for the post-pandemic era, improve the internationalization level and core competitiveness of vocational colleges, and jointly establish a new era of international cooperation in vocational education,” the President of Dolang said.
Meanwhile, the Director of NIVEA, Prajak Thasee underlined how NIVEA is responsible for educators’ professional development in the northern vocational colleges, and how the collaborative parties will contribute to new expertise for the future generation.
“I am very pleased to be a part of this collaboration with SEAMEO STEM-ED to enhance learners’ knowledge in science, technology, and innovation which they can later apply to their professional careers,” the NIVEA Director said.
Director of NIVEA, Prajak Thasee (on the left)
The MoU signing ceremony was held in a hybrid mode, where delegates from SEAMEO STEM-ED staff members and vocational college members attended at the MoE.
For the next step, the educators and teachers in northern vocational colleges will receive training and capacity-building workshops on utilizing technology and innovation (such as agricultural drones, artificial intelligence (AI), etc.) as teaching and learning materials ─ whereas STEM Career Academies in smart agriculture will be set up and initiated at LCAT as a capacity building hub for the northern region.