German engine too powerful for Thai vocational education

your say November 13, 2018 01:00

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Last year, a team of German experts revealed the challenges they had encountered while trying to implement the German Thai Dual Excellence Education (GTDEE) vocational programme in Thailand. 



A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a college.

Dr Markus Hoffman, director of the Thai project, explained that they had already run the programme successfully in several countries and had expected it to be sustainable here by 2018. But Hoffman said the Thai programme had fallen short of those expectations.

To find out how dual education actually works in Thailand, they developed a three-level examination system for Thai schools similar to the one used in Germany. Hoffman’s team has already held “C”-level exams in Thai schools, but German companies like Mercedes-Benz are only interested in investing at the “A” level. Hoffman considers it a real challenge to implement this in Thailand.

Thailand has a three-year vocational education track (Bor-Wor-Chor) but graduates do not meet that German A-level standard. Hoffman and his team are looking into the Bor-Wor-Chor curriculum to see if the latter can be “compressed/refurbished” to match the first year of the German model. But he confessed last year that this seems to be unrealistic. Currently, three years of Thai training don’t even deliver the knowledge imparted by the first year of German training.

Also worrying is that vocational-student failure rates in Thailand are as high as 97 per cent. 

It seems the gap between Thai and German vocational education is just too big to bridge, Hoffman says. He also touches on serious social problems that are holding back Thai vocational education, including bullying by both students and teachers. 

One message parents may take from this is not to depend only on the Education Ministry. Start teaching kids at an early age at home. I started this process at my local kindergarten by donating posters of the alphabet and numerals that children could hang on the walls at home. “Taking the school back home” might help inject “sanook” into early learning.

Dirk Sumter

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