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Thailand behind in global citizenship learning: educator

Thailand is performing below standards when it comes to developing education for global citizenship, said Panthep Larpkersorn, an educator at the Office of the Education Council.

Panthep, a participant at the Asia-Pacific Regional Education Conference's session on Education for Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development in Bangkok, said attempts to teach Thai schoolchildren global citizenship were not cogent.

He said that when students learned about the country's neighbours, the lesson was often filled with conflicts and war, and this induced hatred instead of the spirit of cooperation.

"You can't foster a sense of friendship that way," Panthep said.

He said the National Council for Peace and Order was trying to revive older methods of education that involved teaching subjects like civic duties and history. This, he said, might make students more aware of other countries but at the same time risked making them more oriented towards rote memorisation.

In countries regarded as successful when it comes to education, such as Finland, students spend less time in school and more time learning and discovering by themselves, he said. If Thai students were overburdened with classroom subjects again, they would not have time to learn by themselves.

Christopher Castle, section chief of Health and Global Citizenship Education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, said education for global citizenship included learning about interdependence of people and places, with competencies such as understanding universal values, multiple identities, social-emotional skills and the capacity to act.

It was agreed at the three-day conference, which ended on Friday and was organised by Unesco and the Ministry of Education, that there was not a single definition for global citizenship.

Singapore, which is multi-ethnic, adopted English as the lingua franca because everyone felt equal when speaking it, said Lee Wing On, dean of education research at the city-state's National Institute of Education.

Lee added that values taught in Singapore were now shifting towards global values for the 21st century, with the stress on shared values, creativity, listening skills and competency such as self-directed learning.

"For Singapore to thrive and survive, Singapore must internationalise," he said.

Eom Jeongmin, chief for research and development at the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding, located in Seoul, said South Korean students were being taught about contributing to benefit humanity.

Empathy and a cooperative attitude to embrace diverse cultures are also being taught, she said. School students learn about fair trade, international migration, refugees, and environmental science and discuss these issues in class.

Education for Global Citizenship is one of the key issues to be adopted by the United Nations in September next year as it comes up with a new education policy for the next 15 years - 2015 to 2030.


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