» Thailand: Director-General Reaffirms Cooperation to Achieve the 2030 Agenda
30.08.2017 - ODG

Thailand: Director-General Reaffirms Cooperation to Achieve the 2030 Agenda

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met Thailand's Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and the Minister of Education and Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, in Bangkok on 29 August 2017

On the occasion of her visit to Thailand for the International Symposium on Girls’ Education in STEM on 28 and 29 August 2017, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova affirmed the Organization’s commitment to deepen cooperation around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, during meetings with Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha and senior Cabinet officials, including the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Education, and Science and Technology.

Inclusion and innovation to build more prosperous and reslient knowledge societies was a cross-cutting theme of her bilateral exchanges, with quality education standing at the centre of this transformation.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with UNESCO’s longstanding cooperation with the Kingdom of Thailand and reiterated his country’s support to the Organization, also reflected in the financing of the renovation of the Regional Office for Education in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, as well as the establishment of the International Training on Astronomy, under the auspices of UNESCO.

Looking forward, he highlighted the priority the Government places on tackling economic inequalities and social disparities through a 20-year national strategy to ‘adapt our country to the demands of the modern world’ as well as its commitment to the SDG implementation. He thanked the Director-General for UNESCO’s recognition of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, introduced and promoted by the late King, His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, as a holistic vision that can guide progress towards sustainability.

Concurring on the need to search for common responses to global challenges, from climate change to violent extremism, the Director-General shared the relevance of UNESCO’s ‘soft power’ approach.  Because it challenges classic growth patterns, calls for changing mindsets and empowering the most disadvantaged, she said the late King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy resonates deeply with UNESCO’s vision. 

Recalling that the Education for All movement was born in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990, she noted that that today education is recognized globally as the key to unlocking potential, advancing human dignity and building a better world.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Don Pramudwinai further noted that the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is being integrated into schools and business practices, and has received support from the Group of 77. He stressed that education, human resource development and people-centred policies were the backbone of Thailand’s 4.0 Strategy, which places emphasis on innovation, creativity and social well-being.

Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, the Minister of Education and Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO, outlined a range of measures being adopted to reduce inequalities and improve the quality and relevance of education. These include compulsory pre-school education; incentives for teachers to follow professional development courses; the introduction of ICTs in the primary school curriculum, the upgrading English-language teaching, and the appointment of an independent commission of experts to propose a reform roadmap.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Atchaka Sibunruang drew attention to policies aimed at nurturing scientific talents and spreading scientific knowledge for sustainability. This includes the integration of science and technology across the school curriculum , strengthening connectivity in rural areas and the holding of large science fairs for children and youth.

In the course of her meetings, Ms Bokova also discussed opportunities to expand cooperation with ASEAN, linked to the single Community’s socio-cultural pillar and the 2030 Agenda.

In a ceremony to mark the renovation of the Bangkok office premises,  UNESCO’s home since 1971, Ms Bokova expressed her sincere gratitude to the Royal Thai Government, affirming that Thailand sets a model for other UNESCO host countries. She welcomed also that UNESCO shares the premises with the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization, represented by its Director, Dr Gatot.

The Director-General attended a memorial ceremony in honour of Dr Gwang-jo Kim, Director of the Regional Bureau for the Asia Pacific, in the presence of his spouse, staff, the Thai National Commission for UNESCO and representatives from the UN and diplomatic community. She recalled Dr Kim's warm-hearted leadership and his immense contribution to the advancement of education across the region.

During her visit, the Director-General lay a wreath at the Grand Palace to pay tribute to His Majesty the late King His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest serving constitutional monarch, who passed in October 2016.

She further spelt out UNESCO’s relevance to contemporary global challenges through a keynote lecture on the Organization’s soft power vision.

Addressing over 200 participants, the Director-General recalled the words of the late King, who once said there are two kinds of education: “First is academic knowledge, which will be beneficial to oneself and the country, if applied after completing the course of learning. Second is moral knowledge, or ‘Dhamma’, that is, learning how to conduct oneself. Both require wisdom on the part of the learner.”

“I think these are inspiring words in a world that is increasingly turbulent, in societies undergoing deep transformation,” said Irina Bokova, highlighting that, to succeed, we need to nurture every source of innovation, through the power of education, through cultural diversity, through scientific research, the free flow of ideas and information.

“This is the legacy of His Majesty the late King, the vision of ‘soft power’ that helped drive the stunning development of this country and its role on the regional and global stage,” declared the Director-General. “This is the heart of UNESCO’s ‘soft power.’”

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