23.03.2011 - ODG

Thai Prime Minister Highlights Education Priorities in Meeting with Director-General in Jomtien

© UNESCO/Manh Ha Tran - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova meeting with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, during the High-Level Group Meeting on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand on 22 March 2011

Increasing access to preschool, improving learning opportunities for children of migrant labourers and investing in quality teachers are leading education priorities in Thailand, said the country’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during a meeting with UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, just before the opening of the High Level Group on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand on 22 March 2011.

The Director-General congratulated Prime Minister Vejjajiva on the government’s strong political will to enhance education, illustrated by an ambitious program to extend free education to a full 15 years. “Thailand has an impressive record on economic development,” she declared, adding that “quality education will ensure the country’s sustainable development.”

Asked about her perception of major challenges, Ms Bokova noted that the growing demand worldwide to improve technical and vocational education and skills (TVET) in a context of global economic crisis. Mr Vejjajiva indicated that there was a mismatch between skills and labour market needs in Thailand, coupled with families’ preference to send their children to university. He also emphasized the importance for his country of strengthening bilingual education, especially in the southernmost regions.

Ms Bokova highlighted also UNESCO’s excellent cooperation with Thailand in the field of climate change mitigation and tsunami alert systems, affirming that “we are very cognizant of our responsibility as a United Nations agency to provide services and look forward.”

Turning to world heritage, Ms Bokova took the opportunity to thank Mr Vejjajiva for receiving her special envoy for Preah Vihear, former UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, in February 2011. “Heritage should unite people and nations and serve as dialogue.” She expressed her appreciation for Thailand’s acceptance of the proposal to have a bilateral meeting between the Cambodian and Thai authorities at UNESCO Headquarters on 25 May 2011.

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