Thailand Looks to Become Education Hub of ASEAN Despite Low English Level
BANGKOK – Deputy Government Spokesman Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaeokamnerd reports that The Ministry of Education is establishing a center to develop Thailand as the education hub of ASEAN. The center will coordinate ASEAN-related affairs and implement the association’s policies at the local level.
Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaeokamnerd said the goal of the ministry’s development of Thailand as the ASEAN education hub was to internationalize education in the junior-high and high school levels. These schools must be prepared to provide education for both Thai and foreign students in ASEAN. The center would also act as a source of information and research on ASEAN and train people to handle competition at the regional level, Maj.Gen. Sansern added.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed with the establishment of the center which was in line with the government’s national reform efforts and preparations for the AEC, said the deputy government spokesman.
English fluency is critical if Thais are to thrive in the wide-open environment of the AE.
While some countries in Asean may share borders with Thailand, the language and cultural gaps are huge.
This fact will be a real problem in the workplace once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is established in 2015, say experts.
Korrakod Padungjit, a deputy secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries, said it is important for companies to adapt to cross cultural differences.
“Thais don’t have an interest in Asean countries. Instead we look towards Japan, China and the West. I think our neighbors are skilled in terms of language, and Thailand has to adapt in order to become a hub,” he said.
He said Thailand has the lowest level of awareness in Southeast Asia. While some countries in the region were dependent on Thailand in the past, it has become too used to having an advantage.
Before, Thailand was the perfect place to conduct business, as it is not a communist country and is conveniently located.
But Thailand has been in decline over the past 40 years, as it lacks good leadership, said Dr Kriengsak.
“If Thailand has a smart and talented leader, then we can definitely survive in the future. The problem lies in a lack of quality in politics. Our country lacks maturity in terms of understanding the world. It’s like we’re all children fighting with each other all the time,” he said, blaming the Thai education system.
Thais like to obtain their degrees just to take pictures, but in actual fact they have no knowledge of the world, he said.
They are supported from kindergarten until work. When they get jobs, they get them through connections, and the result is the “old boy” phenomenon.
In case of problems, they will just phone their dads, said Dr Kriengsak, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.
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