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Thai education issues

Re: "Vietnam shows the way", (PostBag, Nov 18).

David Brown -- as well as others interested in Thailand's education issues -- may like to listen to a constructive TED Talk by UN Education Commissioner Amel Karboul (key her full name as well as "global learning crisis" for the link). In addition to her shocking view about a global education crisis, she talks about Vietnam's success in improving their students' Pisa results and how other developing nations are addressing their needs within their limitations (such as a lack of qualified teachers, distance barriers, harnessing technology for teaching and funding). I'm encouraged by her words that every child can be put into school within one generation.

On the situation here, I always hear: "No Thai government has ever been serious about education reform" and I can understand the problems related to constantly-changing education ministers (17 in the past 20 years). What I'd like to understand better, however, is what do the permanent ranks of the Education Ministry -- which outlast changing governments -- do with their five-year plans, their network of NGOs, civil and private organisations, and the annual education budget (a healthy 20% of the national budget)?

Jenjira van der Linden

Graffiti like the USA

On a city sightseeing tour I was taken to the beautiful Rama IX Bridge. We walked over and also underneath it on both sides. Although there is on both sides a nice spacious recreation area, I was shocked to see such a concentration of ugly graffiti smeared on the walls, pillars, doors, floors, railings and control panels. I thought I was in Brooklyn, USA! Also a few homeless and alcoholics lay around with empty bottles and the smell of urine. There are no toilets under the bridge. Vendors sell bird seeds and many pigeons nest there under the bridge causing dirt and droppings.

How can city authorities tolerate such a mess, turning the spot into an American-like slum. They should consider the Singaporean system: "You damage public property, you pay for it!"

Farang Ki Nok

A tall story

Re "Lost in Translation," (PostBag, Nov 19)

If David James Wong knew a little more about the etymology of English words, he would not have been surprised when he found the "camelopard" in the Chinese zoo was not an exotic animal, but a mere "bored giraffe". Camelopard is an archaic word for giraffe, and came into the English language from the Latin "camelopardus", in the 14th century. Before that it came from Greek "kamelopardalis" from the Greek words for a camel, because its head was thought to look like a camel's, and from the Greek word for leopard, because the body was thought to have spots like a leopard's.

I do not know the lifespan of camels/camelopards, but China is an ancient land, and perhaps this exhibit was a real 14th century camelopard, or at least one of its descendants. David should have been gob-smacked with awe instead of turning away in disappointment.

David Brown

Interest rates

Re: "Fears linger in bull run," (Business, Nov 13).

One key parameter is missing: In the pre-1997 stock market boom on the SET, the level of Thai interest rates was much, much higher, often in double digits. This as compared to currently where they have been lingering at record lows for many years and likely to continue for a while. Security valuation of stocks is in good part derived based the level of interest rates in an economy, ie inversely related -- the higher the interest rates the lower the stock valuation which is basic Finance 101. Hence, the average SET p/e levels being much lower today than back in those days is all that much more meaningful!

Paul A Renaud

'Inactive' posts

So Dr Yorn is now at an inactive post (BP, Nov 18). What does a person do at the post? Is he still getting a salary for doing nothing? Dollar to a doughnut nothing will happen to him.

Mr Pete


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