» OECD-UNESCO review of Thai education policy launched
01.09.2016 - Education Sector

OECD-UNESCO review of Thai education policy launched

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UNESCO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have launched a joint review on education policies in Thailand.

Representatives from UNESCO and the OECD joined Dr Kamol Rodklai, Deputy Minister of Education and Secretary-General of the Office of the Education Council, and other high-level officials and stakeholders for a one-day seminar in Bangkok on September 1 to launch the review.

The review follows months of desk research, field visits and interviews with stakeholders.and was finalized at the request of the Office of the Education Council of Thailand. It is the first time that the OECD and UNESCO have joined forces to provide concerted education policy advice to a country.

It covered four policy domains: curriculum; student assessment; teachers and school leaders; and information and communication technology in education, identified key policy issues and challenges facing the Thai education system and provided recommendations for the government to consider in its reforms. The domains align with the renewed emphasis placed on quality and equity by the Education 2030 agenda and, in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 4. 

The preliminary results of the review were presented by UNESCO Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems Director David Atchoarena and OECD Senior Advisor of Global Relations for Education and Skills Elizabeth Fordham. Ms Fordham was part of the team that carried out the review with UNESCO and the national team.

Gwang-Jo Kim, director of UNESCO Bangkok, the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, called the review “a significant milestone in UNESCO’s longstanding cooperation with Thailand and our shared commitment in advancing quality education.”  

The review found that the success of Thailand’s education system will increasingly depend on how well it uses its resources.

Ms Fordham noted that: “Thailand’s recent investments in education have not resulted in the expected outcomes, as seen on the PISA results, which were below those of neighbouring countries”.

Mr Atchoarena said Thailand had ample opportunities to meet these challenges. “Thailand’s potential use of ICT to support students’ acquisition of 21st century competencies and a revised curriculum that corresponds to student assessments are among the major elements needed to achieve the desired goals and keep pace with many of its neighbours in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community,” he said.

Education Council Deputy Secretary-General Watanaporn Rangubtook said: “The results of the review have encouraged policy-makers and all stakeholders to reconsider issues related to the Thai education system, especially those relating to efficiency in education and how the Thai government can best provide students with quality education, the best teachers, coherent curriculum, and how we can most effectively harness ICT to reduce education inequality in the country.”

Key recommendations

The review recommends:

  • establishing effective, efficient and transparent curriculum review and revision processes, led by experts and informed by research and data
  • developing common student performance standards to guide assessments at all levels of the education system.
  • establishing minimum criteria for entry into teacher preparation in consultation with pre-service programme providers.
  • prioritising investment in ICT infrastructure and connectivity in remote areas to ensure equity of access

The UNESCO Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems is promoting education policy reviews among Member States during the current biennium. In addition to Thailand, UNESCO has carried out these reviews in Albania, Guatemala, Malaysia, Peru, St Kitts and Nevis, and Zambia, and they are currently underway in the Bahamas and Sudan.


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