Human are the most important resource of the country. In developing countries, human development is a really important issue. Human can impel the economic. Thailand’s HDI rank is not quite nice because Thailand’s HDI rank is 103 of 187. When we compare Thailand to other countries like Malaysia or Brunei, Thailand got lower rank. HDI is calculated by three main indexes that are Life Expectancy Index, Education Index and Income Index. To improve Thailand’s Human Development, we have to improve Healthcare, Education and Economic which every Thai people have to improve them together.
The primary objective of THEP (the Thailand Hilltribe Education Project) is to support the education of hilltribe children in Thailand. The overall aim is to promote development within village schools and thus equip the students themselves with the skills necessary for their future.
Despite the rapid global changes along with the country’s future plan to become part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, concerns are raised over Thailand’s basic education system which remains out of touch with the modern world, and a reform is called to make it better responsive to the 21-century job market.
A group of academics and other stakeholders in the education system met last week (March 29) at the seminar entitled “Curriculum Development and Reform : Together Towards Reality” organised by the Quality Learning Foundation to discuss and find appropriate solutions for the issue. The output from the seminar will be forwarded to the National Board of Basic Education Curriculum Reform, newly appointed by the cabinet and chaired by Prof. Pavich Thongroj, Senior Advisor to Minister of Education for their decision-making.
The participants, which included renowned academics, members of the Basic Education Curriculum Reform Committee, representatives of policy makers, school administrators, parents and youths agreed that the first component to be reformed is the national curriculum, which should focus more on “employability and workability” rather than academic qualification.
Dr Krissanapong Kirtikara, Second Vice Chairman of the Quality Learning Foundation’s Governing Board, pointed out that the problem of Thailand’s education is not the accessibility, but success of education, which can be determined by the employability after graduation.
According to statistics presented by QLF researcher, Dr Rungnapa Chitrotchanarak, out of every 10 Thai youths who have entered the formal education system, one fails to finish compulsory education, three have to leave school and start working after finishing Grade 9 (or Matthayom 3), two finish high school or vocational education and start working, while the other four continue to the university. However, of these four students, one cannot graduate, two others graduate but fail to get a job within 12 months, and only one can graduate and find a job in 12 months.
In conclusion, the data indicates that 70 percent of Thai youth have to leave schools early to earn a living with only secondary or high school certificates. It is questionable if they are well-prepared or equipped with skills needed for employment.
From this information, Dr Krissanapong noted the concept of education, work and employment should be embedded in the curriculum from school level.
“Education and work cannot be separated from each other, and hence curriculum must be work-oriented so it can respond to the need of every group of children,” he said.
In a broad perspective, Dr Krissanapong pointed out that the curriculum should have diversity and “tailor-made” to suit every groupof learners.
At present, one of the problems in our education system is excessive teaching. The number of formal teaching hours for Thai students is highest, when compared with those of other countries. Thai students aged 11 study 1,200 hours per year, while Malaysian students study 964 hours, Chinese 862 hours and Japanese students 771 hours. This excludes personal studying in cram schools in the evenings and at weekends.
However, despite large teaching hours and huge public investments in basic and higher education, Thai students still have low achievements, because they have gone through repetitive teaching, content-oriented study with no new learning process. When looking at English proficiency, Thailand ranked very low among Asian countries.
Dr Krissanapong also urged that before designing a curriculum, policy makers should take into account the social context and the fact that Thailand is currently an aging society. Our present workforce is mostly not well-educated and not productive.
The aging population results in declining school students. Thailand, he said, has been facing the emptying of primary schools in 2000s, with one-third of schools becoming smaller. If the system still targets only education-age group, we will see emptying of vocational colleges and universities in 10-20 years.
Meanwhile, the number of workforce who are non-age groups will remain constant, at 35-40 million people for 2-3 decades. After that, the workforce will age and decline over time.
Unfortunately, as a developing country, Thailand is aging but poor and uneducated. Both individuals and the state are not rich. Worse, the workforce is having low education, low functional literacy (compared to ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines), and low productivity.
Dr Krissanapong said the country therefore needs to invest more on three aspects; first for basic literacy of the workforce, secondly for their increased productivity within 2-3 decades before they are aged, and thirdly for basic literacy and continuing productivity of the aged so they won’t become a burden.
“What we need now is an education system that creates work competency and good work habits. When referring to the global and AEC context, our education should create citizens who will be on par and competitive with others, while able to live with human dignity.”
He addressed that basic education should not neglect more than 35 million workforce, and suggested that the involved authority look at resources mobilization for workforce education and training, for example, to examine whether empty schools can be used for workforce training, or whether basic education teachers can be trained for adult education.
Talking further on education reform process, Dr Krissanapong said what’s needed is genuine school-based management, and the increased roles of other players such as local governments, private and non-governmental organizations, as well as corporate colleges or universities to bring in more authentic professional education.
The reformed curriculum should be work-oriented, tailor-made, and value hands-on capability, such as design and technology courses, vocational courses, or comprehensive curriculum that includes Buddhist study, moral education, physical education, and handicraft education.
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