Academics are calling on the government to promote progressive education to improve the standards of Thailand's universities.
Participants at a recent seminar on "progressive universities" at Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU) concurred that a progressive education system would be the most effective way to ensure that Thai students and the country would be able to compete on the global stage.
However, they said that progressive education had failed to make leeway here because universities have to abide by the government's educational policy and teaching directives.
Paithoon Sinlarat, vice-president for Research Affairs at DPU, said mainstream education still followed traditional methods that focus on theory rather than practical use of knowledge.
"We've found that traditional education is not applied properly to serve society," he said.
The progressive education movement, which began in late 19th century Europe, encourages students to learn practical skills and apply critical thinking in their studies.
This involves child-centric teaching methods, hands-on projects and class integration of entrepreneurship.
Mr Paithoon said the movement has recently been recognised in Thailand but has not been widely applied in higher education institutes, mainly because the Thai education system follows conventional teaching methods.
Another key reason why progressive education has not been adopted in Thailand was because the government did not really pay much attention to it, Mr Paithoon added.
In order to improve the quality of Thai universities, he said that the government must adopt a progressive education system as soon as possible.
Nares Surasit, dean of Ratchaphruek College's liberal arts faculty, said progressive education was not successful in Thailand because of stiff competition among higher education institutes.
"Higher institute operators are fighting to recruit students," he said. "Students are seen as a source of income rather than as a human resource."
As result, he said it was difficult to push for a progressive education system because of the lack of cooperation among the higher education institutions themselves.
He added that the creativity of educational instructors was limited by the government's education policy.
Instructors fear they will lose funding if their research proposals and teaching policies do not match the government's plans, Mr Nares said.
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- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat