July 11, 1995
H.E. General Prem Tinsulanonda
Privy Councillor and Statesman at the International Conference
Ladies and Gentlemen,
is indeed a great pleasure for me to be invited by the Faculty
of Education, Chulalongkorn University, to preside over the
opening ceremony of this international conference. To all
the distinguished participants from overseas, I extend a very
warm welcome to our country.
am a firm believer in the value of education as a crucial
factor for the development of individual and for national
development. I am thus delighted and find it timely that we
have here gathered today from all corners of the world, to
share and exchange views on the important topic of teacher
education in the context of the twenty-first century, to see
what we can do together to prepare ourselves better for the
improvement of teacher education.
teaching profession plays the pivotal role in the molding
of our children. Second only to our parents, our teachers
have always been the ones we turn to for advice and encouragement,
both in our pursuit of learning and personal problems. Some
15 - 20 years of our formative years are spent with people
in the teaching profession at the various levels of education.
Not only is the teaching profession important to the development
of a child's intellect and individual personality, it is also,
at the macro level, the indispensable link in our effort to
improve our societies and national economies.
best can we prepare our teaching force to meet the challenges
of the twenty-first century with all its economic and social
me, the UNESCO "World Conference on Education for All",
which Thailand was proud to host at Jomtien in 1990, may serve
as a most appropriate point of reference. The Conference declared
the last decade of the twentieth century to be the Decade
for Basic Education for All with a view to inviting Member
States to take actions to ensure the right to basic education
for their peoples. The right to basic education, as defined
by the World Conference, covers the most impressionable stage
of life span, from early childhood to primary education, and,
in certain countries, up to the lower secondary level.
is fair to say that the collective decision taken then, at
the World Conference, by Member States has greatly contributed
to the acceleration of the coverage of basic education at
the global level.
Thailand itself, I am happy to note that, as we are approaching
the Mid-Decade for Basic Education for All this year, we have
been able to achieve a highly gratifying result.
our task is far from over. The issue of basic education would
still remain with us, although the emphasis of educational
concerns would be placed more on the improvement of education
quality. In this respect, teacher education in the twenty-first
century must therefore be geared towards producing teachers
of a caliber that would enable them to deliver education of
high quality to the young generation.
addition to the improvement of the quality of education, attention
should also be given to the production of teachers who would
be sufficiently equipped with special skills and knowledge
to teach disadvantaged groups of people, such as, children
of ethnic minority groups or handicapped children, addressing
their specific problems. I single out for special mention
the training of special education teachers since there is
still an acute shortage of special education teachers in Thailand,
a dilemma which, I believe, is shared in many other places
around the world.
education aside, there are indeed other aspects of teacher
education which are also fundamental for the improvement of
the quality of life, Of perennial relevance, teacher education
must seek to foster competent employment skills and technical
know-how which suit the ever-changing demands of the labor
market. We must make sure that those who have received schooling,
be it at the primary, secondary or tertiary levels, and obtain
employment necessary for their livelihood.
importantly, a strong component in our educational policy
must be a teacher education, which fosters positive human
qualities. For the attainment of the desired quality of life,
teacher education should aim at bringing out in every one
of us the very best side of humanity to ensure that such qualities
as integrity, honesty, social responsibility and caring for
others are always with us, determining each and every one
of our action. Only with this objective in mind can we hope
to achieve progress in better society with better environment
and international understanding.
In Thailand, we are indeed proud in this regard to find that
His Majesty the King exemplifies the ideal quality where education
and humanity meet.
can well echo the view expressed by the President of Chulalongkorn
University that this conference shows the unprecedented outpouring
of public pride and personal affection that greets the occasion
of the fiftieth anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej's
accession to the throne.
intensity of respect felt by all Thai people for His Majesty
stems in large part from his strong determination to use his
education and social position to improve public welfare, his
way of fashioning a concept of kingship that meets the needs
of a rapidly changing society, at once traditional and creatively
modern, and also his never simply issuing a directive but
letting the impetus come from the local population. All his
dedication and manner, I feel, have truly defined one facet
of his greatness as a ruler, being a model for all modern
teacher educators, in this last decade of the Twentieth century.
rapid social, economic, and political changes continue to
escalate throughout the world, goals, concepts and practices
of education should be redefined and reorganized accordingly.
In response to these changing characteristics of education,
teachers as the most important change agents in education
should be trained adequately to cope with their changing roles
challenging duty, therefore, is to improve teacher education
that would lead to an educational reform while maintaining
the balance combination of knowledge, attitude and teacher
ethics. Teacher educators in an era of rapid change, I truly
believe, should, therefore, follow His Majesty's pathway in
meeting the needs arising from those far-reaching changes
with a strong determination to apply the universal methodology
and to set their own pattern that suits local situations.
am confident that this conference will help forge new directions
and strategies for teacher education to respond dynamically
to the emergence of new educational challenges and cooperation
among teacher educators, administrators as well as policy
makers of the public and private sectors and the academic
community in the region, resulting in greater benefits for
wishing you every success in your deliberations, I now have
much pleasure in declaring the Conference open.