Published on February 8, 2008
Education Minister Somchai Wongsawat yesterday revealed his plans to revive some of the projects initiated by the former Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party including the "one million computer" project, the Income Contingent Loan (ICL) and scholarships.
Somchai said his focus would be on introducing technology aimed at developing education particularly the procurement of one million computers for students.
TRT introduced this policy when wooing voters in the 2005 general election. The idea was to let rural kids have the same access to educational opportunities as city students. Somchai said rural pupils would also benefit from broadcasts by renowned teachers from the city.
TRT projects aimed at reducing Thailand's manpower shortage such as scholarships would also be revived, particularly "one tambon, one doctor and two nurses" project and the ICL which would certainly be a priority for the Education Ministry to implement.
Admitting such projects could be called populist, Somchai said that, if they benefit people, they should continue because "Thailand is not just about Bangkok, but all of the provinces and everyone should benefit equally from government projects".
His comments were made yesterday at a ceremony greeting Somchai and his deputies Pongsakorn Annopporn and Boonlue Prasertsopha on their first day in office.
Permanent Secretary Jaruayporn Thoranin welcomed Somchai and said ministry officials believed that with his previous experience as the permanent secretary for Justice, Somchai would be able to take care of the ministry, which currently has over 200 lawsuits to deal with.
His deputy Chinapat Phumirat also reported eight urgent issues including teacher shortages, students' bad behaviour, development of smaller schools, insufficient position payment for teachers, teachers' debts, five core subjects' quality development, teaching materials and technology development and educational development in southern border provinces.
Basic Education Commission (BEC) secretary-general Kasama Voravan na Ayudhya said she thought the "one million computer" project Somchai talked about was an ongoing project in which the BEC must provide a total of 300,000 desktops to schools that had no computers nor Internet connection.
The BEC had so far bought 200,000 computers for schools, leaving them 100,000 short.
She said the project might be former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's idea of buying students 100,000 laptops.
Kasama said that the BEC would inform the new minister on Monday how many computers were needed for teaching and put ideas forward to decide which groups of students should be eligible for the laptop project.