Thai students still lag behind
The ability to learn, analyse and think critically is sadly lacking in Thailand, writes Dumrongkiat Mala
The education system in Thailand has failed to equip its students with crucial skills for the 21st century job market such as critical thinking, problem-solving and foreign language proficiency due to its educational culture, according to Crimson Education Thailand, a consulting company that helps Thai students win entry to the world’s elite universities.
Sujaree Xu, managing director of Crimson Education Thailand, criticised the outdated curriculum and educational culture in Thailand, saying they do not focus on the development of soft skills, such as extracurricular activities and promotion of independence.
Ms Sujaree said radical change is needed in how Thai students are educated, which means tackling the root of the problem in Thai education — the social norms of Thai culture.
“The educational system tends to focus heavily on content and not necessarily the thought process, so true understanding is often not present,” Ms Sujaree said. “Thai education does not encourage critical thinking or inquisitive learning so students struggle to apply knowledge or understanding at a fundamental level.”
Consequently, Thai students are often ill-equipped to enter debates or think analytically when competing on the global stage, as Thai students are rarely encouraged to have their own free thought or question what they have been told.
“So, Thai students need to accept learning as an acquisition of skills, or rather an ability to learn, analyse and think critically, rather than see learning as merely data or content acquisition,” Ms Sujaree said.
As a result, Ms Sujaree said Thai parents increasingly understand that if they want their children to be able to compete in workforce’s in other countries, they might need to send their kids to study in international programmes, international universities in Thailand or even overseas universities as foreign degrees remain an excellent calling card with employers.
However, as only 10 Thai universities made it to the Times Higher Education top 300 Asia University Rankings this year, and six out of the universities’ rankings slipped from last year, Crimson expects that more affluent Thai parents will seek overseas education for their children to equip them with abilities to work on the regional and global stage.
“As an education consulting company, we’ve seen potential and opportunities to grow in the Thai market. More parents want their children to study abroad because studying abroad is likely to enhance their future job prospects,” Ms Sujaree said.
According to the Education Ministry, Thailand sends 6,000 and 8,500 students to study at higher education institutions in the UK and US each year, respectively.
Ms Sujaree said the competition among education consulting companies in Thailand is likely to become fiercer. However, she did not think it will affect her company as Crimson only focuses on helping students to be accepted into the world’s most prestigious institutions and Ivy League universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Oxbridge.
“Last year, there were 15 students receiving advice from us,” she said. “Two of them have just been accepted into their first-choice universities during the 2016/17 admissions cycle. One has been accepted into both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ivy League Brown University, while the other has been accepted into all five of the UK universities he applied for, including UCL, King’s College and Warwick University.”
Ms Sujaree said Crimson expects to get 20 to 30 students more this year, but aims to keep the number of students below 50 to control the quality of service and ensure it has enough time to really take care of each student. “For next year, we aim to grow by 50%, so Crimson is focusing on continuing to ensure staff are trained to the highest level, and that we have experts in the specific fields to help Thai students with their particular needs. Crimson has six local experts and aims to get two more next year,” she said.
Studying abroad is likely to enhance their future job prospects. SUJAREE XU MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CRIMSON EDUCATION THAILAND
A student checks the details of a school in Australia at the Bangkok Post Career-Education Expo.