PM’s speech on ‘Education for Future Citizens and Leaders’

Dear all,

Thanks to Khun Srunya Nopsuwanwong, we are delighted to provide you with information on our PM’s speech at the British Council Education Fair in Bangkok this past weekend. For those of us who were here in England and who attended the Samaggi Academic Conference in Cambridge, we heard from Mr Sukpong Nilpairuch from the Ministry of Education on the importance of teaching and developing critical minds already, so, let’s hear it from the PM himself now, as kindly recorded and shared by Khun Srunya.

Hi everyone,

I just would like to share with you all, the talk that our PM. Abhisit Vejjajiva gave today (8 Feb 2009) on ‘Education for Future Global Citizens and Leaders’. The British Council was holding an UK Education Fair at Centara Grand, during 7-8 Feb 2009 and they have invited our PM to give a talk on the topic above.

Let me share the speech with you all ka:

Mr. Abhisit started off by sharing with us his experience as a student in the UK (Eton and Oxford U). He stresses how many parents send their kids off abroad to study as it is best to learn from the people who ‘own’ and speak the language. Many youngsters who started studying English at a young age (12 years old) can learn the language and speak like a native. However, one point that our PM made which I find very interesting was; that it is not just about the language that we learn by going abroad but also the invaluable experience that we all have in being in a new culture/surrounding, as well as bringing back exceptional fast reading/learning skills.

Education abroad stresses the importance of students to form their own ideas, to be able to present themselves and debate which is not stressed in the Thai system. Furthermore, Thai education lacks a focus on activities for Thai students to become global citizens (also the awareness creation of being part of in an international society). Our PM did realise that the Thai curriculum did lack these particular aspects mentioned above. The quality and substance on the curriculum is a hard core problem, but which needs to be tackled (after the introduction of the free education scheme)

The ability to have wider perspective on things, and creating understanding by having young people learn together- learning about differences and learning together with people of different cultures and background is what is considered as ‘international education’. Mr. Abhisit said that he sees many international schools today, however, the majority of the students are Thai. Not many foreign students can be found within these schools. As a result, he encourages student exchanges as a way to strengthen international (global) education and diversity for our global citizens.

Q&A Session:
Furthermore, a question on knowledge sharing (particularly on research) was also raised by one of the participants. He asked our PM’s view on the issues of information mismatch and information sharing of new innovations, researches. Our PM replied that he agreed with the participant that there are a lot of researches and new innovations which are not being ‘implemented’ for actual use. We do have a lot of researchers however, there is a missing link between demand and supply. What our PM suggested is to find a mechanism or institution to link the researcher’s findings with the actual people who can use those researches to develop and increase innovative thinking.

Another Q&A was on Islam and Education, whether our PM would stress and encourage Islam as part of education, which of course Mr. Abhisit did strongly agree on this. He believes that good understanding of people between different faiths is important as misconception and misunderstanding can occur and lead to violence (Eg.Southern Thailand).

The last Q&A, which I myself find very interesting is on education for the poor and rural people, as the participant sees that it is a problematic issue in our education, whereby it is not widespread to the poor and those with less opportunities (especially with teaching English to the rural children as the teachers themselves cannot speak English). Our PM did strongly see the importance on this issue as stresses that 1) all children should have adequate education and 2) quality of education decrease when moving to rural areas due to the lack of qualified teachers. He encourages on the training programmes of teachers. The government is currently working on bringing a consensus on giving more role to the local authority and to invest local resources to yield successful returns. Our PM sees no sense in training of central teachers and send them to rural areas as those teachers will only leave and return to the city. However, what he sees useful is the training of children to become teachers, as those rural children will stay in their local community and can help develop their rural communities.

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