Scholarships in Japan up for grabs
Kosen tech courses on offer to boost EEC
Starting from the next academic year, 80 top Thai Grade 9 graduates will be offered full scholarships to study at renowned technology colleges, known as Kosen, around Japan as part of government efforts to offset an acute shortage of highly skilled labour for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The scholarships will be offered for five consecutive years.
According to Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, the scholarships will be funded through soft loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Under the agreement, all recipients will spend seven years in Japan studying advanced technologies to help develop 10 targeted industries in the EEC area that are being promoted to drive the country's economic growth.
The corridor covers the country's three eastern provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.
The 10 targeted industries are: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.
"This is the first project that provides Thai students the chance to be trained under the real Kosen education method. They will learn to make robots and write software from the best in the world, and after five years, Thailand will have 400 skilled innovators and engineers," Dr Teerakiat said.
Matsumoto Tsutomu, a representative from Kosen Japan, said the Kosen colleges provide its students with five-year regular engineering courses and two more years of advanced study from about the age of 15.
Kosen now runs 51 campuses across Japan, which altogether have about 52,000 students including hundreds from overseas. Some campuses offer education up to doctorate level.
Graduates of the standard five-year course at Kosen, can each normally expect about 20 job offers, he said. Students who stay on for the two years of advanced study receive about 30 offers.
"Unlike the mainstream education system, the Kosen education method focuses more on hands-on, practical and problem-based learning. Students at Kosen are groomed to be the next generation of innovators," Mr Tsutomu said.
Dr Teerakiat said the criteria for the scholarship has not been finalised yet, but he said that it is likely to be awarded to Thai students who have above average scores in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) or who are on par with students from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
"We will only send our best students to Japan," he said.
As well as the scholarships, Dr Teerakiat said the Education Ministry is also planning to set up a new innovator preparatory school in Thailand where students will be taught under the Kosen education method similar to the colleges in Japan. The campus is expected to be set up at Princess Chulabhorn Science High School in Chon Buri this year, he said.