Press Release

275 children from 8 to 14 years old from Ho Chi Minh City participate in a summer programme to design and plan a smarter and more child-friendly city

08 June 2018

  • Ho Chi Minh City, 8th June 2018 – UNICEF, Saigon Innovation Hub and HCMC Department of Architecture and Planning are launching a summer programme consisting of 11 creative thinking workshops over the summer to engage 275 children from 8 to 14 years old to design and plan for smarter and more child-friendly areas of Ho Chi Minh City. The programme called Children innovate: A smart and Child-friendly City will be facilitated by Arkki – School of Architecture for Children and Youth and will involve also vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Participating children will use basic urban planning materials, e.g. clay, wood, etc as well as computers, Sketchup and Hololens to do develop and express their ideas. Overall, they will learn about design principles, design thinking, architecture, urban planning etc. and build their 21st century skills through hands-on activities and project team works. Later in October this year, a week-long exhibition will be organized at Saigon Innovation Week to showcase all the ideas and projects of children to urban planning experts, decision makers and the public.

"Almost everywhere in the world, the design process is undertaken by adults, while the end- users are often children, such is the case in parks, public areas and schools. Children Innovate: Smart and Child Friendly Cities creates an environment for children to express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them, so that a safe, secure and clean environment, taking into account children's perspectives, may be provided by urban planning experts and decision-makers", said Marianne Oehlers, Chief of Programme Partnerships Office UNICEF Viet Nam.

Urban planning will change radically in the future and it's now time to engage the future citizens, children on how they see the future of the city. The use of architecture and design thinking can be an inspiration for young learners who embrace hands-on learning, multi-sensory learning and experimentation. This approach will equip them with necessary 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, team work, collaboration and communications.

According to the Department of Planning and Architecture of Ho Chi Minh City, this is a very interesting and meaningful educational program. It can incorporate practical contents to educate children on the city's urban environment (flooding, pollution, etc.), and take further actions to develop children's creativity towards sustainable and smart urban development.

Hoang Mai Anh (11 years old, at Grade 6, Tran Van On School) has just attended the 1st workshop. She said: "I find the program a lot of fun. The teachers are very cheerful and always ready to explain what I do not know. We have learnt different ways to build a child-friendly city from our own views".

Architecture offers endless possibilities in STEAM education by holistically intertwining science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics through Architecture activities.

"Arkki programme fosters hands-on building, creative problem solving and 3D construction. It aims to develop personal creativity and encourage individual and collaborative learning. We have the pleasure to work with UNICEF and SIHUB to enable children to participate in the decision-making process and thereby build their own future environment", said Ms. Pihla Meskanen, Founder and Director of Arkki International.

When 65% of future jobs are still unknown, what we are facilitating today for the children should be life-long learning, and the ability to create and innovate. With such mandate, this joint partnership programme is opening up opportunities for children to participate, engage, learn, create and make their voices heard.

"Creative education is the very long-term foundation for the future Vietnamese generations to integrate into the world", said Mr. Huynh Kim Tuoc, Co-founder & CEO of Saigon Innovation Hub.

UNICEF is collaborating with Saigon Innovation Hub and the Department of Architecture and Planning of Ho Chi Minh City to launch this program which is part of Ho Chi Minh City's Child Friendly City Initiative Project (2017-2021).

About "Children Innovate: Smart and Child-friendly City" workshop program:

Each workshop lasts for 5 days with daily schedule from 9 AM to 4 PM. There will be three hands-on project working sessions during each day.

Day 1: City planning principles, maps, scale, design principles

Day 2: Parks, traffic and public spaces, playground design

Day 3: Buildings and Landmarks, landmark design

Day 4: Services, smart city, computer related activities, photo editing

Day 5: Team work, preparation of exhibition and presentation, exhibition and presentation of results

Pham Thai Hong Van

Communications Officer

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative