Current and Emerging Educational Trends Speech by the Rector, Dr. P. Martin Komolmas

Dear Vice Presidents, Faculty Members, Distinguished Guests and Friends.

It is a pleasure to be here with you at least formally once a year for the annual seminar. There are so many things that I have to tell you but you will not be surprised at what I say be-cause it deals with common things about which you have already heard from me. But as a member of the top management team it is my conviction that I should repeat my words again and again so that the message I wish to convey sticks in your hearts and minds because what I have to say represents the basic foundations of education in our university. Perhaps you are aware that Thailand is undertaking important educational reforms and by August 2002 these reforms will be implemented. Why do we have to effect educational reforms? It is because of certain factors that convinced Thai educational authorities to effect reforms in our system. The factors are as follows.

1. Many international bodies have evaluated our educational system and the results are based on competition in maths, science, technology etc. e.g. International Management Development Magazine placed Thailand at the bottom in science exam at high school level among 48 countries which participated in the competition. In mathematics also Thailand took the same position. In this year's Olympics, Thai-land was ranked 30" among 49 countries in physics whereas Vietnam took the fifth position. We used to think that Vietnam is underdeveloped yet its sys-tem of education is strong. The bubble economy deceived the Thai people into thinking that everything here was first class but they were shocked and learned the truth-the simple truths about their real position and their economy-when the bubble burst. There is no easy way to success and it only comes through hard work. Our motto "Labor, Omnia, Vinci? is still good and true. In the past decade people indulged in wild and speculative deals and ventures and they were devastated. Nowadays we often hear the phrase "back to school" or "back to basics". Many schools have reopened now and the universities will start their new semester from June. What they imply by the phrase is that in the past decade the professors relinquished their chairs and abandoned their students to make quick money in markets and brokerage houses and that they are now coming back to their campuses. Today I will tell you what the Education Re-form Commission thinks about this phenomenon. A person or agency that can effect education reform is a teacher and without him no improvement in education is possible. As I have always said "great teachers make great universities". When we see teachers working late hours preparing lessons or doing research that makes me very happy. This is one of the reasons why we have made "teacher education" as one of the most important sectors for reform and the cabinet will be giving serious consideration to these proposals. Another aspect of the education reform is the learning process in which we emphasize the student as the centre of learning. We have also laid down certain plans for teachers to be facilitators and managers of the learning process. Teachers of today have been trained by old schools that emphasized the teacher as the centre of learning with students coming to listen and take down notes and go home. Under the new system the student will be the centre. Excellence in teaching begins with the realisation that the student learning is more important than the teacher teaching. What does it mean? It means that an excellent teacher will try his/her best to make the student learn. The more the student learns the better is the teacher. He guides them and facilitates them, shows the way to the true source of knowledge. We believe that a teacher cannot know everything, especially in this age of information technology where every learner has access to sources of knowledge. For this reason we expect a teacher to be a guide, a facilitator to show them the way because individuals have the opportunity to learn by themselves. Now we shall start with the "raison detre" of why a teacher should be considered as belonging to a high profession. What is the reason behind it. All universities have to lay down a code of professional ethics for their teachers. At ABAC I am trying to revise the Faculty Manual written by Bra. Cyril and after due revisions it will be submitted to the University Council. This will form a good yardstick in evaluating the quality of faculty members and other officials of a university. In future the teachers will be considered as belonging to a high profession like medical doctors and their remuneration will be adjusted accordingly. Their training will consist of5 years of study in a university, one year of practicum and another year of practical training and on completion of this process they will be issued licenses as teachers. This is for primary and secondary level school teachers and universities are required to set their own standards, Some state universities have completed this work and ABAC will be undertaking and completing this project in the near future.

After the above lecture the Rector displayed slides on the screens dealing with the characteristics of the professions and giving explanations in the ,form of a running commentary. We reproduce below the contents of the slides for information of our readers.

The Nature of Professions

Generally speaking, the occupations which are regarded as professions have four characteristics:

(i) The Nature of the Work
The work done is skilled and specialised. A substantial part of the work is mental rather than manual. A period of theoretical and practical training is usually required before the work can be adequately performed.

(ii) The Moral Aspect
Practitioners are usually committed, or expected to be committed, to certain moral principles, which go beyond the general duty of honesty. They are expected to provide a high standard of service for its own sake. They are expected to be particularly concerned about the duty of confidentiality. They also, normally, owe a wider duty to the community, which may on occasions transcend the duty to a particular client or patient.

(iii) Collective Organisation
Practitioners usually belong to a professional association, which regulates admission and seeks to uphold the standards of the profession. Such associations commonly set examinations to test competence and issue professional codes on matters of conduct and ethics.

(iv) Status
Most professions have a high status in the community. Some of their privileges are conferred by Parliament. Some are granted by common consent. During the twentieth century an increasing number of occupations had sought and achieved "professional" status.

Professional Liability
(i) General
The problem which the courts have faced in devising a rational approach to professional liability, is that they must provide proper protection for the consumer. Broadly speaking, the solution which has been found is to require that professional persons should posses a certain minimum degree of competence and that they should exercise reasonable care in the discharge of their duties. "Every person who enters into a learned profession undertakes to bring to the exercise of it a reason-able degree of care and skill. He does not undertake, if he is an attorney, that at all events you shall gain your case, nor does a surgeon undertake that he will perform a cure; nor does he undertake to use the highest possible degree of skill."

Tortious I.iability

(i) The Tort of Negligence
The tort of negligence is complete when three conditions are satisfied:
- The defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff;

(b) the defendant has acted or spoken in such a way as to break that duty of care ;
- the plaintiff has suffered damage as a consequence of the breach

(ii) Theoretical Basis for the Duty of Care



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