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20 November 2013
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Upgrade vocational education, TDRI says

Focus on human development: Report

A NEW DEVELOPMENT model has emerged for the Education Ministry to consider.

Education is a key part of “Human Capital Development for Better Productivity”, according to a report by the Thailand Development Research Institute.

Pokpong Junvith, one of two researchers who authored the report, presented the model at an annual TDRI academic seminar yesterday. “Educational reform should focus on four things: empowering humans, creating quality alternatives, developing efficient databases for well-informed decision-making, and encouraging participation by all stakeholders,” he said.

Pokpong stressed that the education sector must boost human capability and productivity.

He said the Education Ministry’s failure to present vocational education as a quality alternative had caused a shortage of graduates with skills needed for the country’s various industries.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang, who was present during the seminar, has been pushing for a policy to boost the number of vocational students. “The Education Ministry should increase the budget for teaching materials and teacher development related to vocational education,” Pokpong suggested.

The ministry allocates a flat subsidy of Bt25,000 to each student in the vocational educational programme but Bt28,000 a year to each student in the senior secondary educational programme.

Pokpong said business should be encouraged to play a bigger role in arranging educational services, for example via tax measures.

His research team, however, also strongly recommended the engagement of professional associations to prevent business from taking advantage of vocational students. He said the ministry should also address the lack of accountability in the education system. He complained that some teachers still received good performance scores if they pleased their assessors or supervisors, even though their students’ academic records were poor.

“It takes too long for parents’ feedback to have any real impact on teachers,” he said.

He suggested that the ministry consider increasing teachers’ pay based partly on their students’ national test scores.

Chaturon said that overall, the TDRI recommendations were not different from his ministry’s current approach.

“We are going to place a stronger emphasis on central tests like the Ordinary National Educational Test,” he said. He also pointed out that his ministry paid serious attention to PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in improving the country’s education standards.

“I have heard that Thailand’s ranking is improving in the latest PISA. The official results will come out next month.”