A NEW Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Centre will open in Bangkok as part of the country’s plan to become a regional leader in this field.
Thai Education Minister Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said yesterday after the 49th Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) Council Conference in Jakarta that the meeting approved the establishment of two new SEAMEO regional centres in Thailand. One would be the STEM Education Centre, while the other would be a Sufficient Economy Learning Centre.
Both centres would be the first of their kind to be set up in Southeast Asia, Teerakiat noted.
“Thailand has the potential to lead STEM education in the region, as we already have the institutions and researchers to kick off the initiative,” he said.
“Moreover, by having the regional centre for STEM education, Thailand will receive great benefit from the rapid development of our STEM education, which will greatly mobilise our economy.
“Right now the SEAMEO Council has approved this plan. From now on, the Thai government will be responsible for funding and setting up this new centre in Bangkok.”
Teerakiat said that the Thai government had already allocated Bt250 million over five years for the new STEM centre. The centre will be the regional institution responsible for STEM education promotion. It will not only set up policies to improve STEM education, but it will also be the centre for information and experience sharing among the member countries and education experts.
“In order to develop our STEM education, we cannot work alone to achieve this goal,” Teerakiat said. “We need help from outside and to work together.
“This is the first SEAMEO regional centre for STEM education, as the existing science education centre in Malaysia only focuses on the academic perspective. Our STEM education centre will also prioritise the implementation and adaptation of science and technology.”
After getting the green light from the SEAMEO Council, the Bangkok centre would open within a year.
Teerakiat also announced that Thailand would host the SEAMEO regional centre for sufficient economy philosophy. He noted that the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the father of this knowledge, and that Thailand was well placed to share the philosophy with other countries.
Other SEAMEO regional centres to be set up include an early childhood education and parenting centre in Indonesia, a technical education development centre in Cambodia, and a communications education centre in Laos.
Meanwhile, Thailand is to hand over the presidency of the SEAMEO Council to Indonesia after it finished its two-year term in office.
Indonesian Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy, the incoming president, said the next priority would be to secure sustainable development via education. The council would continue with the aim of ensuring better livelihoods for everyone.
“We have a plan to secure quality education for all people and to promote lifelong education,” he said. “Indonesia pledges to provide full support to the SEAMEO mission to create a better future for everyone in the region via education.”