Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thailand in Transition

I found a quite interesting article in the Bangkok Post, describing the different states of development in the Asean countries.
As you can see Thailand is efficiency driven, but not yet in the transition status to become an innovation driven economy. I am wondering how many years that will take, because right now there are only little signs of innovation. Thailand is quite good in executing/producing, as the hard disk, automotive and camera manufacturing shows. It does have a huge service sector as well, 52 percent of the GDP. Wikipedia lists the sectors:
Automobiles and automotive parts (11%), financial services(9%), electric appliances and components (8%), tourism(6%), cement, automanufacturing, heavy and lightindustriesappliances,computers and parts, furniture,plasticstextiles and garments, agricultural processing,beveragestobacco.

Also, Thailand is spending 4 percent of it's GDP (or 20 percent of the state budget) on education, according to a official statement in January (that might change after the coup):

So why is Thailand not further developed? I think the answer is in the paragraph above: While spending a lot of money, it isn't spend wisely. Otherwise innovation would be much higher, as you can learn from Singapore, where education is considered the best in ASEAN.

As long as Thailands (and it's neighboring countries) education system is based on transferring knowledge rather that understanding there is little change. Certificates doen't tell anything about your ability, as we learn everyday when we try to speak English with Thai people. 

I visited a science and reserach fair last year and it was emberrassing to see how little science was done there. It looked more like a vocational exhibition. From what I know about software and app development in Thailand, cloning and copying is still considered the best way instead of developing something unique. And if done so, it is most likey to be a local version instead of targeting at least a regional market.

But, the good news is, the situation is changing. I see a lot of young people setting up small businesses, from coffee shops to bicycle dealers, having the entrepreneural spirit that is required for a society to develop further and cross borders of traditional ways of doing business. 

So, let's hope the coup and the currrent crackdown on critical thinkers doesn't last long and Thailand can go back to business as soon as possible. And someone start's questioning the curriculum and the education of teachers.