While in Haiphong City in Vietnam during the week from 16 to 22 March for research on the development of an integrated systemic governance plan for the government, Professor Ockie Bosch and Dr Nam Nguyen were invited as VIP guests (and Ockie as a speaker) to attended the final Ecopolicy competition of one of the 22 schools and universities.
Similar to the launching of Ecopolicy in Adelaide, Haiphong City was chosen to trial the competition first in one location before extending it to the rest of the country. The teachers and lecturers were trained in December 2012, and the schools and universities immediately introduced the students to the simulation cybernetic game that help students to develop a better understanding of systems and interconnected thinking and to realise that quick fixes (treating the symptoms) do not have lasting effects in solving complex problem s facing our societies.
The Premier, Dr Thanh Van Nguyen, opened the competition with a speech about the value of systems thinking. Ockie followed with a talk (translated by Nam) on the importance of this learning tool that can help creating future leaders and decision makers to develop a “New Way of Thinking”. At the end of the speech they were cheered as if they were important celebrities – not to mention the literally 100’s of photos the students wanted to have taken with them. Ockie even had to take part in a tree planting ceremony. No wonder he is referred to in Vietnam as “His Excellency”!
The Director of the Department of Education mentioned in his talk that more than 40,000 students are now playing Ecopolicy on a regular basis, and the teachers also had to form teams and they also compete against each other. The Department of Education has been so impressed with the enthusiasm of the students and the quality of “new” learnings the students receive, that the Department has decided to make Ecopolicy part of the school curriculum. The students in Haiphong do not only play the game (investing in different sectors of society to create a sustainable country), but also have to indicate how they invested during each round and write a report on why they made the particular decisions during each round (that is, how they used the mathematical relationships between all the components of the model to make their decisions, how they avoid linear thinking, etc.).
Ockie and Nam say they were absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm of all the students and the seriousness in which they discussed their decisions and make their investments to achieve the best outcomes for each country. There were several VIPs invited and also representatives from five other provinces. After they have seen the success and the value to the children, they have all decided to introduce Ecopolicy in their own provinces. Interesting was also the fact that the students enjoy playing the game in English and see it as another opportunity to improve their English language abilities. Not to have the simulation game translated into Vietnamese is also supported by the Department of Education.
“If we can just be half as successful as the Germans and create the enthusiasm that was achieved by the one pilot trials in Vietnam and Adelaide last year, we will make a very big difference in the way the future generation will think about and act on the complex problems facing our society in this turbulent 21st Century knowledge society” says Professor Ockie Bosch.