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Set new education standards or accept substandard country

"All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have equal opportunity to develop our own talent," said US president John Kennedy.

The No 1 priority of educational reform should be decentralised authority, with a bottom-up approach committed to ensuring that all children can access high-quality public education regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, background, birthplace or socio-economic status. A common set of international standards - the Common Core - should be consistently adapted, adopted and applied, setting a high bar of mutually acceptable expectations and academic benchmarks for all provinces. This way they could measure performance and productivity so as to determine whether students (and teachers) are meeting them. To make Thailand more globally competitive, while offering a common denominator in public education to objectively assess what kinds of skills, knowledge, abilities and creative thinking capabilities are realistically needed, the nation must spell out what students everywhere should be expected to know and be able to do to meet life's fast-changing challenges. Highly skilled workers with information-technology expertise are in demand to fill increasingly complex occupational requirements and labour-market shortages.

Meanwhile a back-to-basics approach to making reading a habit should emphasise synthetic phonics at all levels to speed up educational reform in English and Thai by underpinning and reinforcing reading, spelling and writing skills. The acquisition of basic and intermediate maths and problem-solving skills should be taught as "fun" self-access interactive lessons. The emphasis on lifelong learning should be encouraged and nurtured, featuring skills applicable to the job market plus different skill-sets and interests to motivate individual learning styles.

"A substandard education will always result in a substandard nation," warned US education specialist Aubrey Priest.

No Holds Bard Charles Frederickson

Bangkok


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