Improving Thailand's educational system | Bangkok Post: learning

Learning > Learning From News (เรียนภาษาอังกฤษจาก ข่าวบางกอกโพสต์)

Improving Thailand's educational system

Level switch:
  1. Advanced
- +

Teaching students the skills that employers need so they can get jobs is not as easy as it sounds. 



Photo above of arc welding an important skill for any economy that is taught at vocational schools (Source: Wikipedia).

Click button to listen to Educational Reform to download

Economics

A Critical shortcoming

Companies say it's not easy finding the right people for the jobs available
17/05/2012
Soonya Vanichkorn

Brain drain has been a persistent problem for many developing countries.

The problem has been less pronounced in Thailand because its educational system simply does not produce enough quality graduates for the domestic labour market in the first place - let alone enough to lead to human capital flight.

"Employers report having difficulty hiring people with problem-solving skills and good work habits and finding applicants with even basic reading skills," says Yongyuth Chalamwong, a labour expert with the Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI). 

And a significant number of them report that their skill requirements for entry-level positions have increased over the years.

Many have responded to shortages either by hiring less-qualified candidates or by leaving positions unfilled. As a result, productivity has declined.

Work-based learning (WBL) in educational institutions could break the bottleneck, argued Dr Yongyuth.

In work-based learning, students gain relevant, practical experience in real work situations. 

This means students spend one or two semesters at production sites, or experts from companies come to the schools teach the students.

As the supply and demand of labour need to be matched, schools and enterprises need to share resources and make joint decisions on curriculum and training, said Dr Yongyuth.

Finding employers willing and able to implement such programmes can be difficult. Companies worry about liability and do not usually have the resources to subsidise WBL.

Labour demand and supply matching can also be problematic, as the economy changes fast and graduates may in the end find themselves with skills no longer needed.

Dr Yongyuth argued educational institutions need to receive clear signals as to the country's development strategy to be able to plan accordingly.

"Because the supply side takes six to nine years to come up with graduates, we need foresight about the direction of the Thai economy - where the country will be in five, 10 and 15 years - so that the education system will have enough time to adjust to the requirements of the labour market," he said.

But Thailand lacks a strategic development direction in the medium and long term

Dr Yongyuth said the development visions of the National Economic and Social Development Board and other agencies are often at odds.

The Education Ministry tends to be supply-driven, but even so it cannot produce good and talented graduates to serve the market.

The Thai educational system is just not functioning at the right level

Thailand currently ranks below Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia in educational standards, particularly in those related to language and communications.

Even the quality of vocational education is not good enough despite TDRI research showing the employment rate for graduates of vocational education programmes is currently higher than those with university degrees.

"The output from vocational education hardly meets the needs of employers mainly due to outdated teachers and outdated knowledge," said Dr Yongyuth.

He said to enhance vocational education, a new track must be created to recruit bright students with high grades into the system.

To attract such students, jobs and salaries must be guaranteed while educational infrastructure will have to be improved and lab facilities added.

"This will resolve the bias held by society that vocational education is only for second-class students incapable of going to university," noted Dr Yongyuth

Weak primary education at public and private schools alike must also be addressed.

TDRI research shows the basic educational system does not lack resources, especially money, but rather accountability on the part of principals and directors. To increase the accountability of directors, the ministry should use exit-exam results such as those from the Ordinary National Educational Test to gauge performance. It should also make the allocation of government subsidies to schools conditional.

This kind of a carrot-and-stick method has never been used by the ministry, which tends only to issue warnings.

Schools are asked to submit reports on how they plan to improve student standards, but there is no evaluation.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Economics, A Critical shortcoming, Companies say it's not easy finding the right people for the jobs available, 17/05/2012, Soonya Vanichkorn, link

Education Vocabulary

work-based learning (WBL) - when a student learns by doing practical tasks in a job (See Wikipedia)

practical
- useful for real people in real situations; suitable for the situation in which something is used ที่ขึ้นอยู่กับความเป็นจริง
practical experience -
 work in situations in which you learn how to do practical everyday tasks

relevant
- directly connected and important to what is being discussed or considered ที่เกี่ยวข้อง
gain relevant, practical experience in real work situations

welding - the process of joining two pieces of metal together by heating them and pressing them together (See Wikipedia)

arc welding -
a type of welding that uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt the metals at the welding point. They can use either direct (DC) or alternating (AC) current" (See Wikipedia)
http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/personality/health_healthcare_fitness/038774536X_fod.html

skills
- a type of work or task requiring special training and knowledge ทักษะ ความสามารถเฉพาะทาง
skill requirements - skills that a person needs to have to do a certain job
problem-solving skills

vocation (noun) - a job that requires special skills and training
vocational (adjective) - teaching the skills necessary for particular jobs การสอนวิชาชีพ

vocational school

vocational education

brain drain - when the highly educated smart people in a country leave the country to work in other countries, usually because the pay is higher (See Wikipedia)

human capital -
the work skills and capabilities of all the employees of a company  
capital - 1. the machines in a company vs. the labour that uses the machines; 2. money invested in a business  (See glossary)

flight - run away from a place หนีออกไป
human capital flight - Same as "brain drain", the smart educated people valuable to the economy leave to earn more in other countries

critical - extremely important because a future situation will be affected by it สำคัญยิ่ง
shortcoming - something that is not enough (to succeed or solve a problem, for example)
a critical shortcoming - an important thing that there is not enough of (in a company)

persistent - continuing อย่างต่อเนื่อง
a persistent problem - a problem that has existed for a long time (difficult to solve, does not go away easy)

Companies say it's not easy finding the right people for the jobs available. Brain drain has been a persistent problem for many developing countries.

pronounced - very noticeable
a pronounced problem - a very noticeable problem

domestic
- within the country ภายในประเทศ
domestic labour market - the market for labour inside a country
X let alone Y - X is true and Y is even more true 

The problem has been less pronounced in Thailand because its educational system simply does not produce enough quality graduates for the domestic labour market in the first place - let alone enough to lead to human capital flight.

hiring - when a company formally gives a person a job (a contract is signed) การว่าจ้าง
hiring people

good work habits
basic reading skills

application - making a formal request to be hired by a company
applicants -
people who are seeking a job at a company (making a job application)

"Employers report having difficulty hiring people with problem-solving skills and good work habits and finding applicants with even basic reading skills," says Yongyuth Chalamwong, a labour expert with the Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI). 

significant
- large enough to be important or have an effect ที่สำคัญยิ่ง
a significant number - a large number

entry-level positions - the first position that new employees have when hired into a company
shortages - when there are not enough goods for people to buy การขาดแคลน

qualifications -
things that you need to have for a job and be hired for the job (education, work experience, etc)
qualified -
when a person has the needed qualifications

candidate -
one in a group of people who might be hired for a job
qualified candidate  

less-qualified candidate
hiring less-qualified candidates

leaving positions unfilled

productivity
- producing more with the same amount of inputs (labour, energy, etc) การผลิตสินค้า
productivity has declined

And a significant number of them report that their skill requirements for entry-level positions have increased over the years. Many have responded to shortages either by hiring less-qualified candidates or by leaving positions unfilled. As a result, productivity has declined.

institutions
- large and important organizations, such as universities or banks สถาบัน
educational institutions - schools

bottleneck - an obstacle, something that slows progress and completion of a project; a narrow area where a water in a river or traffic on a road slows or stops คอขวด
break the bottleneck  - remove the obstacle or barrier (that prevents the completion of a task)

Work-based learning (WBL) in educational institutions could break the bottleneck, argued Dr Yongyuth.

In work-based learning, students gain relevant, practical experience in real work situations. This means students spend one or two semesters at production sites, or experts from companies come to the schools teach the students.

demand - the amount of a good or service that a people want to buy
supply - the amount of a good or service available to buy
supply and demand matched - when all of a good available to buy is bought (at the market-clearing price)

enterprises
- companies
share - to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน

resources
- things such as money, workers and equipment that can be used to help achieve something ทรัพยากร ทรัพยากรที่มีอยู่ the things that an organisation or person that they use to function and operate, things used to help you achieve your goals, to get a job done
share resources -
when two people or organizations use some of the same resources 

joint
- done with someone else ร่วมกัน do some activity or project together
make joint decisions - make decisions together

curriculum
- the group of subjects studied in a school, college, etc หลักสูตร
training - to teach people how to do an activity or job การฝึกฝน

As the supply and demand of labour need to be matched, schools and enterprises need to share resources and make joint decisions on curriculum and training, said Dr Yongyuth.

employers - companies that hire workers
willing and able

implement
- put a plan into action, make a plan work นำมาใช้  นำ แผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ
implement programmes

liability
- (legal) responsibility for something or someone ความรับผิดชอบ

subsidise - to pay part of the costs of something ให้ความช่วยเหลือด้านการเงิน
problematic - causing or involving problems ก่อปัญหา

Finding employers willing and able to implement such programmes can be difficult. Companies worry about liability and do not usually have the resources to subsidise WBL.Labour demand and supply matching can also be problematic, as the economy changes fast and graduates may in the end find themselves with skills no longer needed.

clear - easy to understand
receive clear signals

development - the gradual growth and formation of something
economic development - the improvement of a country's economy over time bringing higher incomes and greater wealth

strategy
- a plan to achieve a goal over a longer period of time (longer than a "tactic")
strategic - done with a special plan to achieve long term goals

development strategy

country's development strategy

foresight -
thinking ahead about what can happen before doing something (so that you are prepared for what can happen) การมองเห็นผลล่วงหน้า  การมองการไกล

adjust - to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable ปรับ
adjust to the requirements of the job market

Dr Yongyuth argued educational institutions need to receive clear signals as to the country's development strategy to be able to plan accordingly."Because the supply side takes six to nine years to come up with graduates, we need foresight about the direction of the Thai economy - where the country will be in five, 10 and 15 years - so that the education system will have enough time to adjust to the requirements of the labour market," he said.

direction - 1. long term goals; 2. the path that someone is moving along as they go to some place 
strategic development direction
in the medium and long term - over periods of time greater than a year to several years

visions -
a very general plan about how things should be in the future
development visions

National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) -
the government agency that makes long term plans for the development of the Thai economy

at odds
- not agreeing (saying different things; having different goals)

talented - being very good at some task, job or activity ความสามารถพิเศษ having a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught ซึ่งมีพรสวรรค์
talented graduates

But Thailand lacks a strategic development direction in the medium and long term Dr Yongyuth said the development visions of the National Economic and Social Development Board and other agencies are often at odds.  The Education Ministry tends to be supply-driven, but even so it cannot produce good and talented graduates to serve the market. The Thai educational system is just not functioning at the right level.

standards - an acceptable level of quality or achievement มาตรฐาน
educational standards

student standards
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น
improve student standards

communications
- the process of giving information (or emotions, feelings, etc) to other people การติดต่อสื่อสาร

employment
- having a paid job
employment rate

outdated - old and no longer suitable or useful, old-fashioned
outdated knowledge

Thailand currently ranks below Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia in educational standards, particularly in those related to language and communications. Even the quality of vocational education is not good enough despite TDRI research showing the employment rate for graduates of vocational education programmes is currently higher than those with university degrees. "The output from vocational education hardly meets the needs of employers mainly due to outdated teachers and outdated knowledge," said Dr Yongyuth.

enhance - to improve the quality, amount or strength of something ปรับปรุง ทำให้ดีเพิ่มขึ้น  ทำให้ดีขึ้น
track - 1. educational track; a series of coursework that a student follows; skills and knowledge that must be mastered; 2. a mark or line of marks showing the direction that something has moved ร่องรอย

recruit
- to get someone to work in a company or join an organisation or school จ้างงาน จัดหาเจ้าหน้าที่หรือบุคคลากร
bright - very clever or intelligent ฉลาด
recruit bright students - get smart students to attend a school

He said to enhance vocational education, a new track must be created to recruit bright students with high grades into the system.

attract - to make or cause someone to be interested in something ดึงดูดความสนใจ
attract students - to make students interested in

guaranteed - promised that they will get something, for sure
guaranteed salaries - salaries that they will get for sure

infrastructure
- the high-cost facilities that everyone in the economy shares (water, roads, electricity, trains) สาธารณูปโภค
educational infrastructure - educational facilities

facilities
- the buildings and equipment for an activity สถานที่และสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
lab facilities

To attract such students, jobs and salaries must be guaranteed while educational infrastructure will have to be improved and lab facilities added.

resolve - to solve a problem, or to find a satisfactory way of dealing with it แก้ไขปัญหา
bias - favouring certain things rather than others; prefer some people or things over others
incapable - not able to do something

"This will resolve the bias held by society that vocational education is only for second-class students incapable of going to university," noted Dr Yongyuth

primary - first and most important
primary education - the first level of school for young children (Thai: Prathom)
addressed - dealing with a problem; trying to solve a problem

Weak primary education at public and private schools alike must also be addressed.

lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
lack resources

accountability - responsibility for results and achieving goals; must explain what you have done and be rewarded if successful, punished if a failure (See Wikipedia) ตรวจสอบได้, ความรับผิดชอบ, สามัญสำนึกในหน้าที่, ภาระความรับผิด

ministry - a government department dealing with an area of activity กระทรวง

exit - leaving a place ทางออก
exit-exam - a test you must pass before you can graduate from a school

results
- what is produced in the end by an activity or task
exit-exam results - the scores you get when you take the exit-exam

gauge
- to make a judgment or guess about a situation, action or person based on the information that you have
performance - how well or badly something works (or whether an investment provides a reasonable return)
gauge performance - measure performance

allocation
- an amount or share of something that is given to someone การแบ่งส่วน the process of deciding to give an amount of share of something to some one การจัดสรรปันส่วน

subsidies - when the government pays part of the cost เงินช่วยเหลือ เงินสนับสนุน
allocation of government subsidies

TDRI research shows the basic educational system does not lack resources, especially money, but rather accountability on the part of principals and directors. To increase the accountability of directors, the ministry should use exit-exam results such as those from the Ordinary National Educational Test to gauge performance. It should also make the allocation of government subsidies to schools conditional.

carrot-and-stick - offering a combination of rewards (offer carrot to horse to eat) and punishment (hit horse with a stick) to make or motivate people to do something, positive and negative incentives (See Wikipedia)
carrot-and-stick method

issue
- to officially announce or give out ออก, ออกประกาศ, ออกคำสั่ง
issue warnings

This kind of a carrot-and-stick method has never been used by the ministry, which tends only to issue warnings.

submit - to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา ยื่น เสนอ (เอกสาร) ให้พิจารณา
submit reports

evaluation - looking carefully at something or someone and judging how good or bad it is

Schools are asked to submit reports on how they plan to improve student standards, but there is no evaluation.

More on this topic

Bangkok Post online classifieds

Try buying & selling goods and properties 24/7 in our classifieds which has high purchasing power local & expatriate audience from within Thailand and around the world.

0 people commented about the above

Readers are urged not to submit comments that may cause legal dispute including slanderous, vulgar or violent language, incorrectly spelt names, discuss moderation action, quotes with no source or anything deemed critical of the monarchy. More information in our terms of use.

Please use our forum for more candid, lengthy, conversational and open discussion between one another.

  • Latest
  • Oldest
  • Most replied to
  • Most liked
  • Most disliked

    Click here to view more comments