Thailand’s richest man Chearavanont says ‘the best university is society’

Dhanin Chearavanont, Thailand’s richest man has called on the education department to shorten the number of years students spend in school and university.

Chearavanont made this call at the Forum for World Education in Paris, where he stated that the best university is society, and the classroom cannot instill wisdom, which can only be learned through real-life problems.

The Chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group noted that students should spend fewer years in school and university in this digital era, but spend more time gaining real-life experience.

He believes real job experiences would equip them with the necessary skills needed to keep up the pace with ever-developing global technology.

Chearavanont further noted that he believes students should be able to leave the university and take up a job in the labor market at age 18.

The Thai business tycoon affirmed that:

In my opinion, the number of years students spend in primary school should be cut from six to four years, while no more than two years should be spent at higher levels so students can graduate and start working by the time they are 18.

Dhanin Chearavanont radical approach

Chearavanont slammed Thailand’s current education system, accusing it of still using outdated teaching methods and curriculum, saying it is still producing a workforce that is skilled for the previous era while the world has evolved.

His call for a revolution in the country’s education system was necessitated by his belief that students don’t need to learn facts by notes, as all the information they need is at their fingertips through the internet.

He emphasized that machine learning and artificial intelligence can process information, memorize and calculate faster and far better than humans, so there was no need to continue using the old technique that most schools and universities employes.

Chearavanont questioned the nature of contemporary education mission stressing that it was important educators change their modus operandi. Adding, that schools and universities should make their students ready for the labor market by allowing them to learn from real-world problems and challenges.

The billionaire held that the first step in revamping Thailand’s education sector will be to invest in teachers, who would in turn impact positively in the students teaching them the right skills to meet the demands of the labor market.

Education Minister assurance of change

Nataphol Teepsuwan, Thailand’s Education Minister has announced a move to reform the country’s approach to education to attract more technological advanced firms to Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor project.

The Minister revealed that bigger and technological advanced firms would not come in large numbers until Thailand could deliver a highly educated and proficient workforce to meet the requirements.

The just-announced results of the annual Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and which was recently published have shown Thailand’s poor PISA ratings.

Out of 79 countries, Thailand emerged 66th in reading, 56th in mathematics and 52nd in science.