Mr. Songkran Viracharoenkit, an educational supervisor at the Primary Educational Service Area Office in Nakhon Nayok, recalls the time when the number of resources and level of knowledge at schools in his province was very different. Back then, technology was not available to schools and teacher training was outdated, which limited the opportunity for education reform.
Preparing Thai youth to form a skilled and competitive workforce is at the heart of building the country’s digital economy in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 economic model. Songkran is well aware of this. He believes that teachers are the key to reforming education to equip kids with 21st century skills.
Eight years ago, Songkran had the chance to work with The One Computer Classroom Project (OCC) to improve teachers’ classroom computer skills. He began to see the positive impact and continued to participate in Kenan’s education development programs funded by Boeing.
Following this, Songkran was among the educators studying the results of OCC Project and analyzing the curriculum, teachers’ needs, and innovative pedagogies. The analysis discovered the importance of the “learning process” that students learn best when they are in control of their learning. In 2013, the OCC project was re-designed as the Boeing Technology Enhanced Learning Project (Boeing TEL), and launched to support the development of Thai teachers in applying a project-based learning approach that focuses on the application of technology in the classroom to support learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects.
Today, Songkran has witnessed an improvement in many teachers as a result of participating in Boeing TEL. “Though only a small part of the country have been involved in this project, the selected underprivileged schools in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakarn, and Nakon Nayok are now seeing a positive impact. The teachers under the project have improved the way they teach. They use traditional teaching methods less and dare to creatively design innovative methods independently, to respond to their students’ needs. Importantly, they encourage students to learn by doing.”
One of the success stories of education reform in local schools, according to Songkran, was the implementation of project-based learning at Pak Khlong Phra Ajan School in Nakon Nayok province, which is under his supervision. After being exposed to new ideas about education during the Boeing TEL Project, the school’s principal and teachers have been working diligently to enhance the learning experience of their students. The school now encourages students to learn outside, ask questions, and set up their own teamwork project to solve problems. One group of students found that trees in their province are at risk during the summer because of poor quality water. The brackish water in the area cannot be used to water florae. The school encouraged the children to create a water purifier using local materials. By creating the purifier, the kids are developing essential skills required for “real world” success. Watch the story (below) of students from Pak Khlong Phra Ajan school.
“Schools and teachers should collaborate to change the old way of teaching. Today, we need to keep up with changes in the world and be open to new challenges. Most importantly, we should not adhere to the chalk and talk method. Let the student control their own learning and the knowledge discovered will be more meaningful to them.” Songkran concluded with strong belief that teachers will come together to prepare youth for success in the 4.0 era.