Can Chaturon change education's tune?
Newly appointed Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang is diligent and daring. While some ministers have never set foot in the violent deep South, he recently led a group of reporters to Pattani.
Probably to gather strength before a meeting in Pattani, he hosted a karaoke session in Hat Yai. It took a while before the session could start, as the minister was busy tuning the musical accompaniment to fit his vocal pitch.
"You just can't sing it right if you can't tune the music right," he said.
The private sector might observe this with great interest.
According to the National Economic and Social Development Board, at the end of June, Thailand's unemployment rate remained low at 0.7 per cent, with 289,507 persons reported jobless. Thailand is one of few countries in the world that can boast such a low unemployment rate, compared with more than 20 per cent in some European countries. But this also means that as Thailand strives for a higher national income level, we will have fewer workers with the skills to support the leap.
During the karaoke session, Chaturon showed the press how people could upgrade their skills. As someone who didn't know a word of Mandarin, he spent his free time during his five-year political suspension studying the language. Now, he can even sing Chinese songs.
It remains to be seen how much of this passion he can pass on to the younger generation and how this could be included in education policies, to support the country's future economic direction.
Can we hope that his efforts in tuning the music right and in studying Mandarin will be translated into policies that can strengthen the labour market?