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Education, health agencies push for reform

WITH REFORM high on the agenda of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), agencies related to higher education and public health are preparing to push for new changes.

Their intentions were made clear on Tuesday when representatives met with NCPO deputy chief Admiral Narong Pipatanasai.

Speaking in his capacity as the vice president of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT), Associate Professor Pradit Wanarat disclosed a plan for higher-education reform.

"We believe the Office of the Higher Education Commission [OHEC] should be upgraded into a ministry," he said.

He insisted that the management of higher education should be differentiated from that of basic education.

He also complained that the Education Ministry was now over-stretched, as it has to cater to the needs of a number of agencies under its supervision.

"Work flow will improve if the OHEC is not under the Education Ministry," said Pradit, who is also the president of the National Institute of Development Administration.

He said the CUPT would discuss this issue at its next meeting on June 4, after which it would submit its proposal to the NCPO.

OHEC secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisumphand lent his support to the CUPT proposal to remove higher education and research from the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry.

"Universities are about the creation of knowledge, innovations, researches and many more," he said. "They are not just about teaching."

Thosaporn said he hoped also that a strong emphasis would be placed on ethics inculcation at higher-education level.

"We hope to turn Thai universities into world-class learning institutions," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Narong Saha-metapat, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, revealed that it has been proposed that his ministry be taken out of the supervision of the Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC).

Another plan, he said, was to create public health zones to encourage state hospitals in neighbouring provinces to share resources.

"This way, equality among service users should improve," he said.

The proposal, Narong said, suggested a total of 12 public health zones in the country.

The NCPO has allowed the permanent secretary of each ministry to serve as its acting minister.

Suthasri Wongsamarn, the Education Ministry's permanent secretary, said Narong had authorised her to handle routines and move ahead with new projects that had already been approved.

"For example, the curriculum revamp can go ahead," she said.

However, Suthasri admitted |she would need to consult Narong before proceeding with other unapproved big projects or performing certain actions such as transferring a senior official or an official of C10 level or upwards.


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