Summers are typically slower months for organizations all around the globe – people are on vacation, the atmosphere is more relaxed…but not here at EDC Bangkok. In July alone, we have a plethora of deliverables that are keeping all of us here on staff super busy! And then in August, we have even more deadlines to meet, so we need to prepare for those deadlines on top of meeting our July deliverables! Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic here.
Once I got into the office, my manager had scheduled people the project team to meet with me individually and go through an overview of the project and what their role is. Through these series of meetings, I was able to piece together the many facets of this project and understand how they all come together to achieve our main Goal. Our goal is to strengthen the employability of youth in the Lower Mekong partner countries by increasing skillsets of workers in the STEM+AT fields. STEM (science, technology, engineering, math + accounting and tourism). To do this, EDC has cultivated a number of partnerships with universities across the 5 Lower Mekong countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar), and is currently working with their administrators and professors to bring more targeted learnings to their students. This entire project is called the COMET (Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training) project, funded by USAID and carried out by EDC, the Education Development Center. Lots of acronyms, right? Development really is full of acronyms. So, so many acronyms.
Anywho, one thing that EDC supports professors on is backwards design! After a semester of taking a course through IEDP that focuses specifically on curriculum mapping, backwards design, and developing objectives, reading about this terminology made me feel so much more at ease, knowing that I at least knew something on my first week here! Thank you, Dr. GK, for that :). While I’m not on the training team (they are the ones who work with professors and conduct workshops), I did express my interest in learning more about how they train their professors on these concepts. Hopefully, I will be able to go on some classroom observations in the future and see first-hand how EDC supports university professors. I’d love to use that opportunity to connect what I learned in the classroom to practical and real-time application of those concepts.
Another aspect of EDC’s work in this region is evaluating students, employers, and professors to understand what the skill gaps are in employability and create solutions to fill those gaps. Currently, 80% of businesses are looking to hire college graduates. However, only 16% of employers believe that students are graduating with the skills they are looking for. More can be read about this issue here. And here. This evaluation piece, through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and more, is where the M&E team comes in (currently a whopping total of 2 people: myself, and my manager, W). The main purpose of the M&E team is to make sure that our project activities align with our goal (mentioned earlier), that our programs are making a positive impact on the students and universities we are supporting, and that we are meeting our target goals. Right now, we are only in the beginning half of the project, and so we are still putting together all of the baseline surveys, etc. that will guide our future activities. This is so exciting for me because I’m able to take part in the actual creation of the tools that will be tracking our project for the next 3-5 years.
I still have so much to learn, and I definitely have to turn back to my notes from IEDP’s 622 class to keep up with W and the rest of the team, but I am sure I’ll get familiar with it all in no time.
On another note, I’ve had a 5 day weekend because it was a national holiday for the past 3 days. Murni and I went to Pattaya and enjoyed the beach for 2 days. It was really nice to get out of the city and lounge on an island (Koh Larn) over the weekend. We had a great time exploring the island and eating yummy food! I’m so thankful that I have a great classmate and friend to share my Bangkok experience with and I can’t wait for the other two IEDP-ers to join us in a few short weeks! Below are some photos.