Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Education 4.0 - Thailand and UK

Khun Kannapa Chartiyanon, the Bangkok Post journalist and university business management lecturer, makes some eloquent points in her “Thailand 4.0 needs to be tuned into higher learning” article.


The PM Prayut initiative on Thailand 4.0 to drive up the quality of teachers and education is an important one, and resonates here in UK.
Last week began both the debate on reintroduction of grammar schools and the new school year.

It’s safe to say the latter as expected but not the former. With the UK still facing the effects of the Great Recession of 2008 and a summer of silliness if not political collapse with Brexit, then few people have been heard to call for a revamp of the whole UK education system.

Khun Kannapa’s point that education is far more than a building while specific vocational courses, has mentions aviation courses in particular, can diminish the quality of education are all part of the UK debate.

The UK s famed for the quality of its education system especially universities – the world top ten being American or UK universities. A success highlighted by UK being 5x smaller in population than USA and only 0.8% of the world population.

I’ve volunteered and taught in Thai and Kent schools and universities in English, and Advertising, and Business Studies and highly recommend it.
Universities such as MMU, SPU, King Mongkut, Kasetsart as well as Chula and Thammasat and Silpakorn have much to offer UK.

The UK education system certainly isn’t perfect - here in Kent, Medway district has the worst-performing primary schools in UK.

The Kent councillor responsible for education and social services sadly died last week to warm praise from both political parties, yet aside from the schools being abysmal, Kent social services had to be gutted in the face of vulnerable children scandals.

And the Archbishop of Canterbury is now calling for faster action on refugee children for the nearby Calais Jungle, and the ongoing Northfleet children scandal of the children being born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies.

All this with a KCC budget of $3BN per year just to manage the schools. And the schools and university budgets being extra to that figure.

The new Theresa May government calling for a more equal society especially for white working class boys to attend university. And calls to end charitable status for public schools such as Eton and increase the State school quota beyond 59%.

Rather than grammar school a wider but more effective issue may be extra teachers, smaller classes, removing asbestos from schools etc.

And research this week shows the gender gap remains with Middlesborough being the worst town in UK to be a girl. Unfortunately Medway has equal opportunities towns in not being ideal for girls or boys yet.

It’s horrifying that UK classes literacy as a reading age of 8 years old at age 16.

Thailand though is making strides in university education with 8 placed in the QQS World rankings: Chula, Mahidol, Chiang Mai, Thammasat, Kasetsart, Khon Kaen, King Mongkut, and Prince of Songkla.

Shouldn’t the UK and Thailand form a long-term partnership in education with these universities as a minimum?

Almost no universities in Thailand have formal links and exchange programmes with UK universities.

Kasetsart being a dynamic exception with strong UK and EU and ASEAN links with its International dept, especially Newcastle University and its railway engineering courses.
And no Thai language courses or high schools or Rajabhat universities have formal links with UK universities.
What a massive waste of both nations’ human capital?

Kent has 4 universities that are chomping at the bit to partner with Thai and ASEAN universities.

Kent University is a top 30 UK university (with an excellent journalism dept) while CCU Canterbury Christchurch University has strong teacher training and police forensic course, sports sciences and cinema departments. And a very strong business department and vocational courses and apprenticeships and work experience placements.

The latter could also be relevant for Gap Summers and Gap Years for UK students and teachers in Thai schools. Thailand has a golden opportunity, before eventually the African Commonwealth nations such as Kenya or Ghana will put in place similar programmes, and strategic growth markets such as Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Malawi and Angola.

Or tighter Latin American growth market programmes with Mexico, Cuba, Chile and Argentina for example.

I’ve written before on Discovery Park and Sittingbourne science labs here in East Kent (both sites just 20km from the universities and with their own on-site STEM campus) for vaccines research and production – the former the largest US inward investment in Europe with Pfizer.

Both have excellent International Student departments and calls for Kent to have at least one top 200 university in the next decade. But already nursing exchanges are in place at CCU with DaNang university – Vietnam is not slow in grasping the opportunity.

Will Khun Kannapa join me in urging a Thai-UK Education partnership to create ASEAN Studies courses and languages and lift the number of Thai students in UK from 8,000 to 17,000 – the latter number only the same as Malaysian students in UK now?

Shouldn’t all 8 top performing Thai universities be linked not only to a UK university but also specific departments? Khun Kannapa must know of Mahidol MUGO and MMOU business expertise.

Plus there is East Kent vocational college opening its own hotel for customer service training and Creative Industries courses. Plus 400 other schools including Kings School in Canterbury the world’s oldest school, and dozens and dozens of language schools.

DaNang University in Vietnam is already the largest UK education investment. And UK has an Education export target for £30BN to be achieved – and with both Thailand and Vietnam as key growth economies.

Khun Kannapa highlights the range of social enterprise programmes in Thailand’s universities and vocational schools. While the quality of English language teaching and learning is an ongoing issue in Thailand – to the benefit of Commonwealth nations such as Malaysia and Singapore and former USA colony Philippines, with English as the official second language of ASEAN.

And David Cameron before standing down as PM and now MP made it clear that any international student graduating form a UK university and with a graduate-level job would be entitled to stay on in UK if they wished to do so.

Shouldn’t a Thai-UK university and education partnership help deliver on Thailand 4.0? For both nations to grasp such an opportunity would surely mark them out as top-class?

Tim Garbutt is director of Sincerity Advertising and PR agency, director of Surin Village School Charity with the first school built in Isaan and plans to build 1,000 schools each year, and is standing for MP in 2020 for better UK-Thailand and ASEAN activity.


Misc points:

* July Updates: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex Court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc


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