Education needs 'digital-age' boost
Thai education needs a digital-age upgrade to prepare young people to compete in a world dominated by technology, says the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).
Many jobs today will disappear and some jobs that do not exist today will become commonplace, said Chadamas Thuvasethakul, NSTDA's deputy director.
Speaking at a forum titled "Digital Education: The Next Step of Thai Education" recently, Ms Chadamas said researchers believe in just a decade from now, 65% of today's school children will end up doing jobs that have not even been invented yet due to the impact of the world's fourth industrial revolution.
In the future, the demand for workers in fields such as computer engineering, computer coding and mathematics will dramatically increase, while workers who perform only routine skills will be at risk of having their jobs taken over by machines, she said.
"Therefore, the workforce of the future will need to be armed with the right skills to keep pace with new technologies and new ways of working, or the country's competitiveness will fall."
Thailand is moving is making progress with its policy of establishing a "digital economy" to transform the country into a digital society. Moreover, the government also announced a 20-year plan to raise R&D spending to 1% of GDP over 2017-2021, increasing to 4% of GDP by 2036, she said.
However, Thailand still lags behind neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia in terms of students' digital literacy as a survey in 2014 found only 38.2% of Thais can gain access to computers and internet connections.
Moreover, a survey also found about 47% out of 78,965 villages nationwide still have no access to high-speed internet, she said.
"Singapore and the UK have urged their schools to teach primary students computer coding since 2014 in a bid to prepare their natives for the labour market of the future and other developed countries have moved in that direction as well," she said.
Thailand needs to invest more in digital technology infrastructure such as broadband networks and education technology tools like the Massive Open Online Course and the Open Educational Resources which provide free online documents and media that are useful for teachers and students.
Thailand also needs classrooms and educators that can provide the huge array of complex skills that come under the heading of digital literacy, such as complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity, she said.
"Students must be empowered not only to consume digital content but also to be the creators of that content."