Successful funding bid news: DCU and Ho Chi Minh University

Issued 1 December 2017


DCU in the Community Links with Ho Chi Minh University of Science to Promote Community Based Learning in STEM subjects in Vietnam. 

A successful funding bid by DCU in the Community and Ho Chi Minh City University of Science as part of the Irish Aid funded Vietnam Ireland Bilateral Education Exchange (VIBE) will develop an innovative community based learning methodology for STEM subjects in that country.

A spokesperson for Irish Aid welcomed this award and noted that:
“As Ireland’s current strategy for Vietnam 2011-2015 was coming to an end, Irish Aid decided to explore the potential of new areas for knowledge exchange …education is one area that was identified for possible collaboration as Ireland has a strong reputation for its excellence in higher education... Although still in its infancy, experience to date shows that the VIBE programme has proven to provide an effective basis for two-way co-operation, knowledge exchange and has helped to deepen institutional capacity at third level on both sides providing mutual benefits to both partners. It is heartening to see this programme bearing fruit through these partnerships”.

There is a widely recognised crisis in the recruitment for and teaching of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects which have a pivotal role in social and economic development. Community-based learning (CBL – often called Service Learning (SL) in the literature) can play a positive role in both addressing this crisis and in promoting active citizenship at the same time.

In Vietnam, as elsewhere there is a shortage of suitable qualified STEM teachers and there has been a struggle to identify suitable candidates to study and then work in this area. There has been an attempt to break down the barriers to access to STEM for non-traditional students including those with disabilities. A community-based approach to teaching and learning has been found to be productive in terms of enriching the learning experience as well as in terms of workforce development.

Professor Brian Mac Craith, President of DCU commented that:
“DCU is proud of its long- standing engagement with international development issues. We are committed to tackling global challenges through partnership across the world and this project is a very good example of this approach. I am delighted to see DCU in the Community leading
this international co-operation venture supported by CASTeL, Ireland’s largest research centre in STEM education”

For their part the joint leads of the project Phan Nguyen Ai Nhi from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at Ho Chi Minh University of Science and Joanna Ozarowska, Manager of DCU in the Community stated that:
“This unique Vietnamese-Irish co-operation in promoting SL and STEM for socio-economic development and active citizenship has huge potential. It will, in the practical roll-out of the project, seek to harness the motivation of students and teachers alike through civic engagement. SL is a proven teaching strategy internationally and it can serve to enrich the learning experience while also strengthening communities and their resilience”

Contact: Professor Ronaldo Munck, Head of Civic Engagement (