> Carnets

Education, Economy and Identity

Ten Years of Educational Reform in Thailand

Dirigé par Audrey Baron-Gutty et Supat Chupradit
Irasec, Bangkok, août 2009, 118 p.
ISBN : 978-616-90282-0-8
English Language English text

Modern education in Thailand started at the end of the nineteenth century under the impulse of King Chulalongkorn. Many scholars tracing back the evolution from traditional education to a modern education system emphasized the feeling of necessity that motivated this transformation. Wyatt (1969), Mead (2004) and Watson (1982) underlined the need for a modern administration, to handle the Siamese nation-state “as” the Western states, and in that respect, the key role played by education to structure the new Siam and to appear to the eyes of the world as civilized (Peleggi 2002).

The shaping of a new education took place amidst strong political struggles. Siam needed to stand firm within the regional arena, swept by the winds of Western colonialism. Internally, King Chulalongkorn had to legitimize his power and to unify the kingdom by integrating satellite kingdoms into a wider space, the Siamese nation state. Education was vital for this mission as it would contribute not only to bringing state power into the provinces through state-paid teachers and government officials, but also to transmitting a whole nation-related imagery to the young generations.

Giving rise to Thai-ness among the populations located at the margins of the kingdom was a tremendous ordeal. In the Southern part of the kingdom, population was mainly Muslim, spoke Malay and felt culturally closer to the Malay state (Dulyakasem 1991). In the Northern part, incorporating the Lanna kingdom and hill tribe populations into Siam proved not to be easy. Ideological, social and national values were introduced into education delivered to students, and with the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act of 1921, school attendance tied children and parents to the nation state and made them liable to it.


   Read the book


Table of Contents


Note of Transliteration
Thai terms


Introduction: Understanding the Challenges of the Educational Reform in Thailand

Objectives of the study
Methodology / Research Questions / Hypothesis
Paper outline


Chapter 1 - Reinforcing Thai wisdom with local curriculum at school


1. Sample Presentation and Background Information

1.1 Survey of schools
1.2 Background information on the local curriculum

2. Actors of the local curriculum

2.1 Elaborating the local curriculum
2.2 Delivering the local curriculum

3. Content of the local curriculum

3.1 Challenges of the local curriculum
3.2 Local wisdom vs. local curriculum?



Chapter 2 - Modern education systems and impact on ethnic minorities


1. Development of the modern education system in Thailand

2. The “Hill Tribes” of Thailand in the geopolitics of the Cold War

3. Extending modern education to the highlands: the role of state agencies

3.1 The Office of the Basic Education Commission
3.2 The Non-formal Education Office
3.3 The Special Education Administrative Office
3.4 The Border Patrol Police (BPP) Command Office
3.5 The National Buddhism Office

4. Impact of modern curriculum on hill tribes

4.1 School curriculum and teaching system in highland schools
4.2 Impact of formal education on the hill tribe people and community

5. Attempts from Government Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and People Organizations (POs) to reform education

Conclusion: problems and challenges


Chapter 3 - Vocational and cooperative education in Thailand: A Presentation


1. Vocational education in Thailand

1.1 Historical background of Thai vocational education
1.2 The vocational education in Thailand: Current structure
1.3 The present status of Vocational College in Thailand
1.4 The role of vocational education in economic development

2. Cooperative education in Thailand

2.1 The concepts of co-operative education
2.2 Importing co-operative education in Thailand



Chapter 4 - Fix-it centres: Adaptation and outcomes of the “clusters of the poor”. A case study in Chiang Mai


1. Fix-it centres and the cluster policy

1.1 The theory of industrial clusters
1.2 Fix-it centres: a cluster-related organization
1.3 “Clusters of the poor”?

2. Case study of a Fix it centre project in the Chiang Mai Area

2.1 The fix-it centre stakeholders and their linkages
2.2 Activities of the fix-it centre
2.3 Assessment of the fix-it centre outcomes



Chapter 5 - Strengthening university-industry links through co-op education: Case studies in Thailand


1. Recruiting students for co-op programmes

1.1 Background of the students
1.2 Selection process

2. Setting up a relevant curriculum

2.1 Developing human skills for the working environment
2.2 Buttressing basic knowledge
2.3 Inculcating specific knowledge

3. Assignments in the workplace: The key role of the university supervisor

3.1 Internship vs. co-op
3.2 The role of supervisors



Conclusion: The Need for a Real Educational Reform



The Contributors


Audrey BARON-GUTTY (Université de Lyon, Institut d’Asie Orientale) is a PhD Student in Political Science. Her thesis deals with the impact of globalization on the making and implementation of national educational policies, with a special focus on Thailand and its educational reform launched in 1999. She was sponsored for two years by the IRASEC to carry out her field work and the CELS (Centre for Education and Labour Studies), based at Chiang Mai University, provided her with institutional support.

Chitrlada BURAPHARAT (Department of Arts, Media and Design, Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University) is a lecturer in Learning Process, and Information Design. She holds a doctoral degree in Adult Education (Workplace Learning and Change) earned at the University of Toronto. Her current research focuses on critical thinking, alternative teaching and learning; and competency development. She was in charge for three years (2007-2009) in supervising and designing cooperative education programme using French IUT model for Modern Management and Information Technology (MMIT), College of Arts, Media and Technology (CAMT), Chiang Mai University.

Kwanchewan BUADAENG (Department of Sociology-Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University) earned her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Sydney in 2001. She is a lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University. Her research focuses on hill tribes in Thailand and neighbouring countries, with a special emphasis on cultural and ethnic identities.  Her previous works analysed both the impact of modernization and government policy on ethnic peoples' lives, and their responses to modernization and globalization.

Supat CHUPRADIT (CELS, Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University) is a PhD student in Research and Development in Education. His thesis topic deals with dual vocational training in secondary education in Thailand, and its role in skills and knowledge formation and transmission. He has taken part in CELS-conducted research projects, including the one funded by NRCT (National Research Council of Thailand) on education and poverty.