The three Thai universities judged by a worldwide poll of educators this week as being among the top 100 in Asia would have had more to celebrate if their rankings had not taken a tumble. As it was, Mahidol dropped to 42nd from 38th last year, Chulalongkorn slid to 48th from 43rd and Chiang Mai fell back to 98th from 91st in the 2013 QS university rankings for Asia. Thammasat failed to make the top 100.
These disappointing results came as little surprise to educators who have long expressed concern over slipping standards, exam cheating and "tea money" scandals, a general lack of proficiency in English and poor career guidance. They are all factors likely to threaten the nation's competitiveness when Asean workforces are partially integrated in late 2015.
Nor are the implications lost on the Ministry of Education, which is placing its hopes on a national curriculum overhaul, 80% of which has been completed. It is due to be phased in next year. Under the reforms, appropriate content would be selected for different age groups and stages of development rather than the traditional "one size fits all". Efforts would be made to tackle the outdated system of rote learning which stifles initiative and discourages critical, innovative thinking.
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