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                 Rohit Bajoria
      Professional banker and wealth manager
MNC bank   

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pSave Our Planet (IV) a huge success
SOP for Schools:
“Save The Planet For the Children”
By students of Garden International School, Bangkok
Friday, March 18, 2011,
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

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Weekly NewsLetter
12  September  2011
    Vol.1 No.31

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The Editor's Corner


Will tablet computers improve Thai education?
One of the Pheu Thai party’s winning campaign promises in the recent (July 3) general election was to give Thailand’s elementary school students tablet computers.

Following their sweeping mandate from the voters, clearer heads began to prevail and the students that are to receive the tablet computers have been narrowed down to all Prathom 1 (Grade 1) students, still that is a total of 800,000 students nationwide.

The cost of the computers is to take 10 percent of the Education Department’s 70 billion baht yearly budget, 7 billion baht (US$232.35 million). The money was originally intended to purchase students school uniforms and textbooks.

However, a recent and extensive New York Times story about the use of laptops, interactive screens and software in the US that gave birth to IT, specifically in the Kyrene School District in the US state of Arizona, should be a “must read” for the education officials in Thailand.

In 2005, voters approved a budget of $33 million for the digital push, however, six years later, test scores in math and reading have stagnated, even though these scores have been improving statewide in Arizona.

A significant quote in the story comes from perhaps a leading proponent of this type of futuristic education: “The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. When it comes to showing results, he said, “We better put up or shut up.”

In 1997, a science and technology committee assembled by President Bill Clinton issued an urgent call about the need to equip schools with technology. However, the report’s final statement read; “The panel does not, however, recommend that the deployment of technology within America’s schools be deferred pending the completion of such research.” This statement comes after the report acknowledged that there had been inadequate research to assess the effectiveness of high-tech learning.

In November voters returned to the ballot box in Kyrene to authorize more funds for the digital push. The measure lost by 96 votes.

If there are questions about the success rate of digital education in the United States, these questions should even loom larger in Thailand, which is much less advanced than the United States in IT.

The development of software, the training of teachers, the development of Internet linkage across Thailand, which is approximately the size of France,-all these are issues that have seemingly not been addressed by the new Thai government. The tablet computers are unlikely to be Thai education’s “magic bullet.”

My hunch is that two weeks after the tablet computers are issued, expect them to start appearing for sale as “used” in street markets across the land.


Top News from Southeast Asia

September  11 , 2011


These were the most newsworthy stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of September 3-September 6.

Most Malaysian ETP initiatives implemented
About 84 percent of the 87 initiatives announced under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) are being implemented.

Thai PM signals AEC change for military
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed senior military officers from the three branches to prepare for changes in their roles as the creation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 draws near.

Indonesia drops on competitiveness scale
Indonesia has dropped two places in this year’s Global Competitiveness Report, bringing a sudden halt to an impressive climb that had seen it climb 11 places during the last two years.

Malaysia jumps 5 places in competitiveness
Malaysia has made positive strides to jump up five positions in the latest Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Thailand drops 2 places in competitiveness
In the recently released 2010-2011Global Competitveness Report Thailand slipped two places to 38 on the international scale compiled by the World Economic Report. In the previous year it had ranked 36.

Vietnam faces power outages
Power shortages are expected to hit the remaining months of the year, according to the general director of Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN), Pham Le Thanh.

Philippines may relax forex rules
Philippine monetary authorities are mulling over a further relaxation of foreign exchange regulations as they hiked their forecast for gross international reserves (GIR) this year amid the surge in hot money inflows.

Without immigrants, Singapore loses
Without migration of some magnitude, Singapore's population will decline - even if it manages to boost its Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 1.85, up from the current 1.15.

Vietnam offers incentives to Japanese investors
The Vietnamese government has always appreciated the quality and efficiency of capital flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan. It recently called on Japanese businesses to increase investments to develop industries in Vietnam, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong.

Diverse board proposed for Thai sovereign fund
A sovereign wealth fund should be managed by a board comprised of representatives from across society, according to Bank of Thailand chairman MR Chatumongol Sonakul.

Thais hope to power Vietnam
A Thai state-owned group is seeking investment opportunities to plug gaps in three major power projects in Vietnam.

Asean looks at trade deals, SMEs
The members of Asean need to remain vigilant in the face of growing global risks and harness their members' competitive strengths through deeper integration in order to remain relevant, senior ministers say.

HCM tourism rises, so do problems
Although the number of foreign tourist arrivals rose by 10 percent in the first seven months of 2011, the HCM City tourism industry has been facing challenges. Deputy Director of HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism La Quoc Khanh and Nguyen Van My, director of Lua Viet Travel Company spoke with Le Hung Vong and Thuy Ha about these issues.

Laos’ labor force is 3.7 million
The current size of Laos’ labor force aged between the ages of 16 and 65 is 3.7 million people with the majority of them in agriculture.

Malaysia is ivory transit point
More than 20 tons of illegal ivory have passed through at least two Malaysian ports since 2003, earning the country an unsavory reputation as a trans-shipment hub for the multimillion dollar trade and the figure involves only those shipments seized.

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