Ovec sets up new measures to boost vocational education

national September 27, 2013 00:00


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Comission aims to turn Thailand into Asean hub by opening new colleges


The Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) has come up with four measures to enhance the vocational-education system in terms of quantity and quality with a goal to turn Thailand into an Asean hub in this field, said Chaipreuk Sereerak, secretary-general of the office.
The four measures are to increase the number of vocational students; boost the standards of vocational colleges, teachers and students; provide greater learning support; and create Asean-centric networks for vocational education.
Earlier, Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang announced that the education-reform plan needed to shift the ratio of vocational to general education from about 40:60 to about 51:49 by 2015. Currently, some 900,000 students complete their Matthayom 3 (Grade 9) studies each year, of whom 500,000 enter the general education stream, about 300,000 opt for vocational education, and the remainder drop out. 
Chaipreuk said Ovec already had several measures in place to increase the number of vocational students, with a target of getting 400,000 Grade 9 students to study in vocational institutes nationwide. 
In addition to maintaining new enrolments, the commission will look into offering vocational studies at the district level. After achieving success in its two pilot projects in Si Sa Ket’s Kanthararom district and Chiang Rai’s Wiang Pa Pao district, the office is planning to expand further. 
It is also planning to offer specific courses in some areas, such as Koh Samui, where there is a need for education in tourism. The office is also planning to offer vocational courses for disabled people and prisoners. 
“A survey has shown that there aren’t many vocational colleges in smaller districts, hence offering vocational-education opportunities at the district level will allow more students to study, as it would be close to their homes,” Chaipreuk said.
The commission is also planning to expand the number of colleges offering courses in technology in response to the growing demand in the country. At present, there are five such colleges, in Chon Buri, Phang Nga, Sing Buri, Lamphun and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Big ambitions
In terms of Asean partnership, Chaipreuk said Ovec had set the ambitious goal of turning Thailand into a hub for vocational education. At the initial stages, the commission will form partnerships with the so-called CLMV countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Previously, the office had signed agreements with Laos and Vietnam to initiate dual high-vocational certificates. 
Udon Thani’s Kumpawapi Industrial Community and Education College has been chosen as a pioneer to work with a vocational college in Vientiane. The two sides will jointly design a curriculum for the 2014 academic year offering courses in three fields – automotive, electricity and electronics. As per the collaboration, students will get to attend classes in both colleges. 
From October 6 to 9, the commission will participate in the second DTVE–Ovec TVET Exchange Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Myanmar’s Science and Technology Ministry in partnership with ACTED (the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) and ADRA Thailand (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency) will host the meeting with an aim to extend bilateral cooperation in technical skill development and vocational training among 
 Myanmar refugees. 
The bilateral talks will also seek to foster a relationship between the two countries’ vocational education authorities and explore possibilities of collaboration between Ovec and Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE) of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, in Tak’s Mae Sot district, the commission will form a partnership with the Tak Chamber of Commerce to develop vocational colleges in both Tak and Kamphaeng Phet provinces in order to produce a workforce that meets the demand in the area. The commission and the chamber will jointly create programmes based on the number of students and the qualifications required in accordance with the industries, such as garment and agriculture. 
As per government policy, Mai Sot has been designated as a special economic zone along the East-West Corridor. Therefore, the commission has to prepare vocational education in response to the economic growth in the area. 
Chaipreuk said the office planned to offer training courses for executives from other vocational-education agencies in Asean countries as part of a move to take leadership in the region. The commission will also work with its counterparts in the Asean region to set widely acceptable professional standards for each sector. 
At a recent seminar on educational reform, Akom Termpittayapaisit, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, suggested that the country’s population structure was another concern for the education minister. Since the proportion of older citizens was growing, the number of people in the workforce would drop. Therefore, he said, the ministry should consider preparing skilled workers for entrepreneurship. 

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