In Thailand, reforms in the sciences preceeded changes in the arts

Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Sippanondha Ketudat, minister of education of Thailand, at the August 1981 International Conference on Chemical Education.

Education has been highly valued by developing countries as a basic fundamental instrument for development.

By development, I mean, a process of enabling people to attain ideals and aspirations that they could not achieve before - that is to learn and apply information, attitudes, values, and skills previously unavailable to them.

Learning is not usually enough by itself.

Most aspects of development require capital investment, followed by scientific and technical processes.

But capital, scientific and technical processes are inert without human knowledge and effort.

The general expectation of science education in developing countries is ''science for development'' with the purpose of inculcating scientific knowledge and the inquiry approach to people so as to gain a proper response to the basic human and societal needs in harmony with the social, cultural, and natural environments.

Science-education reforms in developing countries in the past two decades have a slight advantage over industrialized developed countries, in that previous successes and failures of planned changes and reform can be observed.

Late development brings opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.

In many countries in the developing world, Thailand included, science education reform spearheaded the broader reform of the educational system.

In many developing countries, especially in the past three decades, education carried with it a national unification purpose as well as a requirement that it meet the needs of rapid development, modernization, and even equalization of opportunities in society; science was expected to be one of the tools for such purposes.

It is important to regard science education reform as a part of the development process, and not as a separate academic exercise.

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