by Mr. Anand
Chairman, Saha Union Group of Companies
Among Higher Education Institutions”
Golden Jubilee International Convention
Kasetsart University, Bangkok
Ladies & Gentlemen:
I am honoured to
be with you at this Golden Jubilee Convention marking Kasetsart University’s 50
years of excellence in serving our country and bringing together such an impressive
group of international and domestic educators.
my term as Prime Minister, I would like to think that I played a role in stressing
the emphasis that must be placed on education, which should be high on the agenda
of all future governments. I am reminded of a talk I gave last August to the Foreign
Chambers of Commerce, where I stated:
“A better educated population will be the key to our nation’s efforts to tackle
the challenges of the future. Higher levels of education will lead to greater
political awareness, reduce differences in economic opportunities between urban
and rural areas, and the enhanced competitiveness of the Thai economy.”
a private citizen, I continue to believe strongly in that statement. Education
is the key upon which the development of the Thai society rests, and, indeed,
the development of the entire Southeast Asian region.
my talk today, I shall first present my views on the changing role of education
in the world economy. Then, closer to home, I shall put forward some thoughts
on the crucial role of education in the regional context – both for ASEAN and
for the emerging nations of Indochina, Myanmar, and southern China. Lastly, I
shall conclude with some ideas on the challenges to be considered and addressed
by this prestigious international convention.
- Role of Education in a Changing Global Economy
play a vital role in shaping society, education must continuously respond to the
changes taking place around us.
been many in recent years:
end of the cold war has altered the types of problems mankind is dealing with
to include more economic and social issues;
- Improved information and transportation flows have increased
the amount of ideas and goods available to answer these new questions; and
- The increasing integration of the world economy has given
us more choices and options, increasing the complexity of the environment in which
these questions are both posed and answered. Actions we take increasingly “spill
over” to affect other countries or sectors.
these developments have radically changed the way we look at the world, and education
must equip us with new tools with which to approach this increasingly challenging
Of course, the traditional
role that education has played in helping our country develop must not be overlooked.
economic development rests on the development of each person to his fullest intellectual
and moral ability. A tall order, but one I am sure you are capable of filling.
development means promoting responsibility. This is the more traditional, and
time-tested, role of education in development. Education plays a crucial role
in creating not only personal, but social maturity.
example of this increased consciousness is the ability to gain a better understanding
of politics and democracy and of events beyond one’s village or town of birth.
This will be accompanied by increasing political development and a strengthening
of society’s institutions to achieve true social maturity.
example of increased consciousness is looking at how industrialization and the
economic development process can be truly useful and productive for all members
of our society. With such an awareness, we will be able to address income and
regional disparities that often occur along with economic development, and which
can prevent the benefits of development from reaching those who need it most.
education not only creates awareness of technological possibilities, but develops
a moral consciousness to control the development of these possibilities.
should never forget to pay attention to developing people into socially responsible
citizens with the same intensity we give to developing new technologies. This
moral component of education is one of the foundations of the Thai nation and
a most valuable asset of traditional methods of education that we must preserve
as we expand our horizons to meet the new challenges of today’s changing world.
Building upon this solid base, education
must now evolve to meet these new challenges.
information and technology flows require that we prepare our people to be a part
of the information age; expanded training in computers and communications
technology are necessary for such countries as Thailand to maintain the economic
progress it has experienced in recent years.
am sure you are also well aware that the main client for university graduates
has substantially shifted from the civil service to the private sector. This means
that more effective inter-facing between universities and the private sector is
essential and we must develop innovative programs to ensure this is achieved.
Industry/academic cooperation can ensure that research is quickly applied to serve
the general public.
Another new challenge
we must meet is the ability to support sustainable development.
Environmental awareness, energy efficiency, and conservation technology
must all be addressed to stop the depletion of our natural resources. Our development
must be built upon sustainability of these resources, or we will end up paying
more later for their rehabilitation. People are but one of our available resources,
and education should teach us that improvement of our own condition is dependent
on the improvement of our environment.
cooperation is one example of how countries can cooperate to pool talented manpower
to address common global problems. As the world gets smaller, we must educate
people to understand their neighbors and their neighbor’s concerns, to be more
tolerant. Cultural understanding and a global perspective come through awareness
of other societies, and universities must increase this awareness. Only by achieving
such an understanding can Thailand truly function in today’s global economy and
participate in the fight to solve our global problems.
the same time, social responsibility can be promoted by increasing awareness of
those less privileged within our society. Universities must continue efforts to
extend themselves to the community to ensure that new ideas reach all levels of
Kasetsart began pioneering
such an outreach approach some 40 years ago, offering short courses during holidays,
off-hours, and weekends to small entrepreneurs, farmers, and to mothers at home.
Such efforts should be expanded to ensure that those who cannot attend university
full-time can still profit from our centers of higher learning.
evolution of education is fundamental to our societal development. While traditional
roles must always remain, evolve, and be improved, efforts to implement the newer
roles education is being called upon to fill must be given top priority.
- Education and Regional Development
Southeast Asia, and the areas around Thailand in particular, there exists significant
scope for education to play a key role in promoting economic development in the
emerging nations of Indochina, Myanmar, and southern China. Thailand’s recent
economic prosperity has caused us to transform our role in some cases to that
of a donor, instead of a recipient, country.
recent study of the Asian Development Bank on regional cooperation in the education
sphere concluded that there is a strong link between “education and training on
the one hand, and productivity and income on the others.”
a most basic level, education, especially of women, has a crucial effect on poverty,
health and nutrition, and can drastically improve basic standards of living.
improvement in primary education is seen as most likely to yield the highest returns,
technical and vocational education, especially management training, is singled
out by the Bank as the most important way to help alleviate serious skills shortages
in parts of the region. Focused training can promote such sub-regional sectoral
efforts as development of tourism and of new technologies.
with area governments showed they feel that coordinating at least some elements
of higher education, especially research capabilities, on a sub-regional basis
will increase the region’s knowledge base and ensure that skills crucial to economic
development are available from among the population of the region.
an example of such regional research and training, I may cite Kasetsart’s Regional
Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC), which is being sponsored by the
Asian Development Bank, along with Swiss and Thai agencies. This community forestry
training program utilizes knowledge from several different countries by employing
resource persons “on-loan” from various public and private groups.
The global community helps preserve a dwindling global resource – the forests
– through a cooperative university program. Further collaboration of this kind
between countries will help reach the goals on our global and regional agenda,
of which resource preservation ranks high on the list. Universities are the natural
catalyst for sharing the knowledge needed to reach these goals.
another level, there still exists considerable scope for enhanced cooperation
between the ASEAN nations in the human resource development arena.
of additional area-oriented specialized regional research/ education
centers, such as SEARCA in the Philippines, BIOTROP in Indonesia,
and AIT in Thailand should be promoted. Cooperating universities can channel themselves
into technology generation and transfer as an inter-disciplinary project.
the academic and private sector to work together, while at the same time encouraging
academic cooperation, is especially important in newly emerging areas of technology.
Development and successful transfer of these technologies is key to strengthening
regional economic competitiveness and improving the welfare of each of the ASEAN
number of regional cooperative science parks and research centers can be facilitated
by seeking multilateral and bilateral funding to support these initiatives. Such
an area-oriented view for university research agendas greatly assists regional
economic development by expanding our existing body of knowledge while simultaneously
integrating that knowledge with the regional economy.
these ways, better regional cooperation can be supported through better academic
- The Challenges Posed
for this International Convention
I am far from being an educational expert, I shall take the liberty of concluding
with four main challenges that I urge the educationalists present here to address
during this ambitious Inter-national convention.
to promote the internationalization of education by forging more international
linkages between educational institutions. Teacher exchanges, student exchanges,
and international cooperation on study and training at both graduate and undergraduate
levels are all ways to further internationalize education. To this can be added
specific networking opportunities between academics in different countries through
information exchange and research.
to encourage educational institutions to continously develop their curricula and
course offerings in response to evolving economic, political, and social conditions
and to improve linkages between the education sector and other sectors in the
economy. All areas of knowledge must be approached by being placed within a comprehensive
Third, to use education
as a tool to promote social maturity in our nations and increase
mutual trust and understanding. World leaders can make peace and war, but it takes
ordinary citizens to create world understanding. Proper education can encourage
social responsibility and an awareness of global perspectives and common global
problems which override parochial concerns, whether personal, local, or national.
to combine increased international linkages with international understanding to
initiate concrete educational initiatives to assist the newly emerging nations
of the region in their economic and social development. By also forging links
with other ASEAN economies for mutual assistance in these areas, we can further
the development of the entire region.
am aware that these are not small challenges, and that your deliberations will
not end with this convention. But I am equally sure this conference is a perfect
example of the critical long-range thinking the education sector needs to face
I look forward to observing
your successes in these areas, and to the resulting continued social and economic
development in the Southeast Asian region amid improved trust and understanding
among our peoples.
I wish you all good
luck as you tackle these critical challenges.