MORE CHANCES, MORE RISKS
Abhisit Vejjajiva offers advice to the first grads at Bangkok PrepYoung people nowadays face a great challenge," former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acknowledged at the recent convocation of Bangkok International Preparatory and Secondary School's inaugural class.
"With so much competition they need new skills all the time," he warned the Class of 2012. "The role of education and society should be to encourage them to be enthusiastic in their learning, but also learn to be responsible in society. Otherwise everybody would end up concerned only with their own problems and not seeing the big picture. Society would become weak."
Abhisit presented graduation certificates to the students who had completed their Year 13 studies before delivering the keynote address.
Headmaster Keith B Wecker underscored the significance of the ceremony, a major step in the students' lives. "We need to inspire and encourage students to realise their role in and responsibility to society as they move away from their high-school environment," Wecker said.
Bangkok Prep's third group of students this year completed IGCSE tests set by the Cambridge Examinations Board in Britain. The rigorous assessments in Years 10 and 11 prepare them for the final A-grade exams in Years 12 and 13.
Abhisit pointed out that this is an age of unprecedented opportunities for young people. He urged them to "think BIG".
"B" was for balance, to ease the many social problems that have arisen from imbalance. Abhisit cited His Majesty the King's self-sufficiency policy, a life based on moderation.
"I" was for inclusiveness, ensuring that more fortunate people share their success with the disadvantaged. "G" was for green. "As we face the global effects of climate change and environmental deterioration, we must be forward-looking and act positively to protect and shape a better, more stable world for future generations," Abhisit said.
He said the best thing he can do for his two teenagers is to be a worthy role model. "First of all, there's no point saying anything if you don't behave accordingly. Secondly, I've tried to teach them to think by themselves."
Abhisit said not even his busy schedule keeps him from having meals regularly with his family and travelling together when they can. They have a rule at the dinner table - no mobile phone or other electronic gadgets.
Asked by the press later whether his kids ever wanted him to quit politics, Abhisit said he was already a politician when they were born, so they're used to it. Certainly there have been crises when the family was bombarded unfairly, he said, and he is grateful for their strength and understanding.
Does he ever help the kids when their homework? "Certainly!" he grinned. "I often do."