Education for the New
The Fifth UNESCO-ACEID International Conference
Learning reform and the future of Thai and regional
education systems were the main focus of discussion at the Fifth UNESCO-ACIED
International Conference, held in Bangkok recently under the theme: "Reforming
Learning, Curriculum and Pedagogy: Innovative Visions for the New Century".
The conference, held at the Imperial Queen's Park
Hotel from December 13-16, was organized by UNESCO-ACEID in collaboration
with the Office of the National Education Commission of Thailand (ONEC)
with the assistance of the Hong Kong Institute of Education and Education
Victoria. The conference looked into the reform requirements for learning,
curriculum and pedagogy in all sectors of education and at all levels,
as well as in particular branches of knowledge, as a means to promote a
learning, outcome-based educational future.
The conference featured keynote addresses from
regional education experts and academics, including an opening speech by
H.E. the Prime Minister of Thailand, panel presentations from education
administrators and Thai youth, and roundtable discussions in which conference
participants addressed specific themes.
In his opening address, H.E. Prime Minister Chuan
Leekpai emphasized the need for modernization and improvement in order
to prepare for a future which is increasingly globalized, knowledge-based
and competitive. "Education should provide our people with knowledge
and skills, which form the core of our learning process," he said.
"At the same time, education should provide our people with a general
perspective on life, so that their minds are broadened and so that they
can co-exist and live in harmony with others, irrespective of differences
in their age, gender, faith or values."
In his speech, the Prime Minister pointed out
that the administration and management of education in Thailand must also
be decentralized and revamped, raising teaching standards and the competency
of teachers to respond rapidly and efficiently to changing needs.
The concept of learning reform as perceived by
several paper presenters is the shift from teacher-centered teaching to
student-centered independent and efficient learning.
During roundtable discussions involving conference
participants and a representative sample of Thai youth and children, a
number of problems in Thai education were identified and solutions proposed
to overcome these obstacles.
The main problems facing the Thai education system
were identified as curricula, the learning-teaching method, quality of
teachers, student problems, non-standardized educational criteria and freedom
in writing of textbooks. The discussions concluded that the most important
factors to the success of education reform would be the greater participation
of teachers, students and parents in school administration and more effective
The thrust of education development should be
directed more at the cultivation of creativity and a positive attitude
toward learning, rather than rote leaning or fragmentary knowledge. Curricula
must be focused on the cultivation of creative thought and the development
of a healthy personality, while the range of obligatory subjects in elementary
and secondary schools should be reduced in favour of a wider variety of
optional or elective subjects. Oversized schools and crowded classrooms
must be also be trimmed to a more appropriate size.
Equally important are the systems governing training,
appointment, promotion and remuneration of teachers. These must be reformed
with the aim of rewarding competent and dedicated teachers with moral integrity.
As part of this reform, working conditions of teachers nationwide should
be greatly improved.
The quality of education provided by schools nationwide
should be adjusted to be on a parity with each other with individual institutes
offering a more varied selection of subjects and competing with other schools
in terms of the quality of education. To achieve these objectives, government
expenditure on education must boosted while inefficiencies and waste are
eliminated from the system.
For the long-term future of Thailand and its people,
it is crucial to pursue global standards of excellence in education - not
just for a select few but for all - so that all Thais can develop to their
full potential alongside the nation itself.
THE NATION : December 27th, 1999