Academics urge students, teachers to prepare for AEC
A leading academic has outlined the role of higher education in preparing graduates and lecturers for the Asean Economic Community (AEC).It is important for students in today's world to create the questions likely to confront them, and then figure out answers to the questions, he said.
"After they know the problems, they will adjust themselves before the changes come. They can't wait until the changes affect them," Chulalongkorn University Vice President Assoc Prof Pornpote Piumsomboon said at a recent seminar on improving the capacity and quality of universities ahead of the AEC.
The seminar was held at the National Institute of Development Administration by the International Institute for Trade and Development and attended by representatives of universities and several educational institutes.
Pornpote said students had to learn to create questions, find answers on their own and prove if the answers worked or not. "This would improve their thinking skills, which are necessary at present."
He added that by doing so, students would discover how to seek knowledge by themselves from research-based learning and learn to adjust to changes.
On the other hand, Pornpote challenged lecturers to change the way they teach -- from passing on knowledge to students directly to providing support as facilitators to help them find the answers.
Former Education Minister Prof Wijit Srisa-arn urged higher education institutions to educate students more about Asean in an attempt to upgrade their own education quality and increase capability.
"You should not only establish an Asean studies centre at your campuses, but should include information and knowledge about Asean in general education subjects for bachelor's degree students. This will help with students' awareness, recognition and adjustment to be graduates of Asean."
Sivika Mekthavatchaikul, who is part of a subcommittee that studies institutions' readiness for the AEC, wanted universities to gather information and knowledge about Asean from agencies at Foreign and Commerce Ministries and pass them on to students in their general education subjects.
To prepare Thai graduates to enjoy wider work markets in Asean, taking up international cooperative education in other Asean countries was good preparation as higher education institutions could do this immediately, Wijit said.
"Suranaree University of Technology has taken four or five years to gain acceptance from industry by having its students do internships for a semester as part of cooperative education," he said.
"Students interning in other Asean countries would learn the way to work and how to work with people in other countries and be ready to work in Asean."
Wijit and Commission on Higher Education former secretary- general Sumate Yamnoon said higher education would have to move in harmony with those in other countries in the region to support students' mobility. They needed to improve quality standards and work together.