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PM takes on education reform as Kaplan opens in Thailand

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said last week that he will personally lead a government “super board” tasked with reforming Thailand’s education sector.  Meanwhile, U.S. firm Kaplan International said it will open English-language schools in Thailand and the Kingdom’s public school English-language teachers will undergo a proficiency examination.
 
Kaplan International announced that it will open its first English-language school at Central World shopping complex in the heart of Bangkok before expanding with over 100 additional schools planned for the Kingdom.  Kaplan executives said they will provide courses that will help students prepare for TOEFL, GMAT and GRE tests, as well as offer a program to increase their chances of succeeding at leading universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
 
“English is necessary for Thais to gain an advantage in the regional job market. Therefore, Kaplan is investing in resources and facilities to provide high-school and university students with the best in English language,” said country manager Ekkapong Na Ranong.
 
He added that English skills will be valued even more highly with the launch the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community (AEC) later this year, a 10-nation free trade zone where labor will move and compete more freely.
 
“English will help Thais to be able to compete with other countries.  I believe Thailand has good potential. We already have offices in 10 countries,” said Kaplan Chief Operating Officer Tony Froggatt.
 
As part of efforts to improve the English-language abilities of Thailand’s public school students, the Office of Basic Education announced last week that it will test the Kingdom’s more than 46,000 English teachers to determine their level of proficiency.
 
The test, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), is international level and was last administered in over a decade over ago.
 
But in an even broader effort to upgrade the abilities of Thailand’s students and education system, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said during his nationally televised weekly address to the public that he will personally lead a super board that will be established to reform the education sector.
 
“And I will try to yield results as soon as I can,’’ the Prime Minister said.  Analysts have been calling for education reform for nearly two decades, but despite huge budgets allocated to the Ministry of Education, results have not met expectations. Several have warned that Thailand will lose its competitive edge and be unable to achieve its goals of moving from a manufacturing base to a knowledge economy unless education is reformed.
 
“I will try to heed the public's demands by addressing the question of making learning a constructive experience while also upholding quality,’’ Prayut said. 
 
See the original article at Thailand e-Focus

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