Monthly Summary: Education and Thailand Development

By Amp Lao

  • PM speech on international education: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reflected on his experiences as a student abroad in “A Dialogue on International Education for Future Global Citizens and Leaders” at the “Education UK Exhibition 2009”. He explained that the difficulties did not come only from the high academic standards, but also from the language and culture that he had to deal with, as well as the food, which he agrees is still a problem today for many Thais. “The skills and things that I picked up during those years were: to be a fast reader, to want to learn, and to try to form my own ideas and concepts and positions on things, to be able to present my ideas and be able to debate my peers, as well as my tutors,” he explained.  An international education not only benefits learners in the area of foreign languages skills, but also gives learners wider perspectives, richer experiences, and an appreciation for multiculturism and diverse peoples. According to the PM, being a student abroad requires one to become more disciplined in order to survive tough times and odd customs.
  • New University Admission System in Questioned: It is reported that since the new style central university admission system was launched in 1006, the number of students on probation and getting F grade increased substantively. Dr. Tul Sittisomyong, a lecturer of Chulanlongkorn Faculty of Medicine, urges that more places must be allocated to direct admission rather than relying on central university admission system. The House committee on Education also summoned many relevant figures, after Parents Network for Education Reform head Kamolpan Chivapansri lodged a complaint about the admission system. Dr Somkiat Pongpaiboon, an advisor to the House committee on education, said if there was evidence that the central university admission system hurt the quality of education, a review would be needed. The House proposed a forum for students to voice their opinion regarding the new style entrance system. [The Nations: 27th of February, 2009]
  • The Textbooks Issue: The Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) ruled out a suggestion to launch new textbooks for the upcoming semester. Khunying Kasama Varawarm, the OBEC Secretary-General, said there is not enough time to review new textbooks for May semester. However, the “OBEC is scheduled to fully introduce a new curriculum for the 2010 Academic Year”. She explained that the new curriculum would be for Grade 1, 4, 7 and Grade 10 students. She added that the textbooks, which are not yet very up to date could be updated through extra inserts. The publishers will also update the new curriculum on the websites to prepare teachers as well. [The Nation, 26th February, 2009]
  • Free-Schooling Funds Ready to Take Off: Jurin Laksanawisit, the Minister of Education, said that the Ministry has already allocated a large amount of money to cover textbooks, uniforms and other learning materials for students. This budge supplements the expansion of compulsory education from 12 years to 15 years. Jurin said the budget for free school uniforms and learning materials would be transferred to schools so parents can get reimbursed. In the case of the school’s budget funding, Jurin said that schools must allow parents, teachers, student board members and community representatives to make a joint decision on how the money should be spent.
  • Curbing State Schools Fee to BT 1,000: The lastest Draft Regulation said that any additional fees that State schools can collect from their students during a semester cannot be higher than Bt 1,000.  Once promulgated, the regulation will be applicable to all schools under the supervision of the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec). Obec secretary-general Khunying Kasama Varawarn said yesterday the Bt 1,000 ceiling was being imposed because the government had allocated more funds to education. Accordingly, the new regulation will affect more than 200 to 300 state schools that have been collecting additional fees from their students over the past year. [The Nation: 24th of February, 2009]
  • Education Researches in Spotlight: The president-elect of the Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Dr. Nattitep Pitaksanurat, launched the Institute for Research and development. Under the leadership of Dr. Chatree Nakagul, the Director, this Institute attempts to be the hub for local and regional researches projects on teachers’ development and education quality. More importantly, the institute will host the First National Conference of Rajabhat Universities on Local Development Research of Thailand. This is an auspicious opportunity for the Rajabhat Universities to share and exchange their expertise to improve Thailand’s education quality. [Bangkok Post: 5th of February, 2009]
  • Regional Cooperation: Thailand hosted the 31st SEAMO (Southeast Asian countries in Education, Science and Culture) High Officials Meeting, from 19th to 21st January, 2009. The regional meeting highlighted the need to achieve Education for All in Southeast Asia. More importantly, senior officials focused on providing education to the underprivileged. The meeting emphasized the need for regional cooperation in order to increase the quality and access of education of the children in this region. While representatives from Malaysia took the lead in supporting learners with disabilities, girls and women’s education, the Philippines volunteered to set up a mechanism to identify student dropout. Thailand and Laos committed to work on developing initiatives for learners in remote communities, community-based learning centers and multi-grades teaching.

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