On May 10, 2013, at the Royal Benja Hotelม Dr. Phungphet Khunla-iad, the Vice-Minister of Education, presided over a brainstorming conference about the development of knowledge and understanding of ASEAN and the ability of Thai people to communicate in English in preparation of Thailand’s entry into the ASEAN Community.
The Vice-Minister of Education thanked all public and private organizations and the teachers who had joined him at the conference. He hoped that brainstorming from every group would lead to increased enthusiasm to learn English among students, government officers, and people in general, including taxi drivers and street vendors He said that it is important to find ways to make everyone try to speak English, which is not a difficult language.Thailand’s entry into ASEAN will have an impact on all Thai people. Each person should understand his or her own role in it and know how to adjust.
ASEAN has three pillars. The first one is the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) which deals with justice systems, Good Governance, and international terrorism. The second pillar is the ASEANEconomic Community (AEC) which deals with laws, transportation and communication, products and services of SMEs and skilled labor. The third pillar is the ASEANSocio-Cultural Community (ASCC)which relates to education, languages, ASEAN learning centers, and regional personnel.
Thailand has eight strategies to prepare itself for entering ASEAN in 2015. They are: (1) Increasing skills and competitiveness of products, services, trading, and investment, (2)Developing quality of life and social protection, (3) Developing infrastructure and logistics, (4) Developing human resources to meet ASEAN standards, increasing technical skills and language skills, education curriculums, and building networks with other members, (5) Developing laws, rules, and regulations, (6) Building knowledge and understanding of the importance of ASEAN, (7) Increasing the security of the country which will lead to unity and peace, and (8) increasing the potential of the country to gain more opportunities from ASEAN
The Ministry of Education has been assigned the fourth and the eighth strategies. It needs to make Thailand an Education Hub, to catch up with neighboring countries that have made developments and progress.
- Laos- People development, especially in vocational education and higher education, training for technicians and vocational personnel to make them skilled laborors, and the use of technology
- Cambodia- developing the potential of four main categories: agriculture, infrastructure, private sector development and job creation, and human resource development
- Malaysia – Transforming schools into“Smart Schools” to increase ability to initiate, developing intelligent and skilled labor
- Philippines- Focusing on the development of language and technology
- Singapore- Developing languages and upgrading knowledge and expertise in science, mathematics, humanities, and physical education.
The Ministry of Education has produced seven strategies to prepare our country for entering ASEAN. They are: (1) Development of English language skills and increasing the learning of other Asian languages, and establishing 26 ASEAN study centers, (2) Building basic knowledge about ASEAN, its members, and cultural divergence, producing curriculums on ASEAN and integrating it with other subjects in every level of education,(3) Production of standard frameworks for national qualifications, as Thailand has been selected as a pilot country to trial the national qualification standards framework with the ASEAN qualification standard framework, (4) Facilitation of laws and regulations, discussing the process of coming and going out of Thailand, providing visas for teachers and students5) Preparing the workforce, especially in logistics, enginering, and nursing6) Producing and developing teachers, and (7) establishing ASEAN learning centers
The Vice Minister of Education asked the participants at the conference to increase the enthusiasm of the people about Thailand entering ASEAN and encouraging them to speak English. He believed that the conference will benefit from valuable opinions from many sectors which can be applied to improve the effectiveness of this work.