IN BOOST FOR PROVINCE, SCHOOL HAS EYE ON AEC LINKS AND LOCAL GROWTH
WITH a Bt200 million investment, the first international school in Udon Thani will open in September as it prepares to take advantage of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and to improve education in the area.
Udon Thani International School (UDIS) introduced itself officially to the people of its hometown and the media recently at Central Plaza Udon Thani.
“We will invest over Bt200 million in the construction of UDIS over the next three years. UDIS will be one of the first international schools in the Northeast region and will deliver a UK and inquiry-based curriculum to students,” Dr Lindsay Stuart, the school manager, said.
Udon Thani Chamber of Commerce chairman Sawat Teeraratananukulchai said: “It has been a long wait for an international school to be launched in our province. We have wanted and waited a long time for this kind of school. Businesses in Udon Thani are growing fast, especially when the AEC is encouraging movement of people and investments between Udon Thani and Thailand’s neighbouring countries. In the past, we did not have any schools that could equip our students with good English language skills and who were prepared for the connected world we live in.”
Dr Stuart said the economic integration of the AEC sought to provide for the free movement of trade, labour and capital within the Southeast Asia region. Udon Thani lies at the crossroads of the AEC between Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. As a result, it was experiencing a property and business boom. It will act as a hub which allows easy movement of businesses and organisations to this province which will increase the overall economy of Thailand, Udon Thani and the AEC.
“We are examining marketing opportunities in Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and China to bring these students to school and to create an international environment where students can learn from each other,” he added.
According to Udon Thani Provincial Treasury Office, the economy in the province has grown substantially. Investments in the private sector have increased as many housing and commercial building projects have been started.
Udon Thani earned revenue of Bt261.25 million in January last year, which was Bt55.87 million or 27.20 per cent higher than the Bt205.38 million revenue earned in the same month in 2012, revealing the growth in income in the province. The city has a population of more than 1.5 million people.
Siriphat Pukpo, UDIS licensee, said that she and Dr Stuart had 10 years’ experience in running educational institutions in the Northeast, including managing the Northeastern Bilingual School in Khon Kaen.
They wanted to develop international education in the Northeast and saw Udon Thani |as a good opportunity to do so |as there is a clear lack of |schools teaching English.
She said UDIS was an educational business whose primary focus was on the provision of quality education to its students. Qualified teachers have been selected from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The school also has a preference for staff holding advanced degrees and all teacher profiles are made available online to demonstrate the transparency of the school.
Emmi Hines, head teacher of UDIS, said that with home-country qualified teachers coming from different countries, students would learn about cultural diversity and be provided with an international environment to learn in.
“UDIS aims to nurture happy, healthy, critical and creative lifelong learners,” said Mark Beaumont, programme coordinator of the school.” We want to create an environment which is tailored directly to the needs of students and break away from the rote-system of learning that still characterises much teaching in Thailand.”
Prarita Smiley, a parent who has had her twin children enrolled at UDIS, said she wanted them to be equipped with good English in an environment that supported learning the language naturally.
“I like the way international schools teach students. They have freedom to express their thoughts and ideas. They are confident and feel free to ask teachers questions. So, they learn with happiness and enjoyment. I want them to study in international programmes until they reach university level. This will bring about better opportunities for them. It is worth investing in education for their bright future,” she added.
UDIS is licensed by the Thailand Ministry of Education. It will also seek accreditation with the Council of International Schools, the International Baccalaureate and approved inspectorates of OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).
“I will also have my three children study at UDIS. As a mother, I want to ensure that I am providing quality education to my own children and other students here as well,” Siriphat said.