Thai education pioneer Professor Wijit Srisa-arn passes away at 88

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

Professor Wijit Srisa-arn, a prominent scholar and the founder of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, died yesterday, aged 88 years old. His death was due to heart failure, which set in around 10am. The funeral rites are scheduled to start at Wat Makut Kasattriyaram in Bangkok from tomorrow till Sunday.

Known for his invaluable contributions to education, Professor Wijit hailed from Chachoengsao and was born in 1934. After securing an Education Ministry scholarship, he began his academic journey at Chulalongkorn University with the aim of becoming a teacher. His outstanding academic performance led him to earn not one, but two bachelor’s degrees; first from the Faculty of Arts in 1959 and then from the Faculty of Education in 1961.

Armed with a Fulbright scholarship, Professor Wijit then travelled overseas to Minnesota University where he secured a master’s degree in education management in 1964. Three years later, he bagged a doctorate in the same field on a university scholarship.

His illustrious career started at the education faculty of Chulalongkorn University, following his graduation in 1961. He continued his tenure there after returning from his studies abroad.

By 1971, he found himself in the position of secretary-general of Chulalongkorn University. At the age of 40, in 1974, he was appointed as the deputy permanent secretary of the then University Affairs Ministry.

The Thai magazine Who is Who in Thailand gave Professor Wijit the moniker “Educational Troubleshooter” after he successfully resolved internal conflicts at Thammasat University and Khon Kaen University during his tenure as acting rector.

In 1978, Professor Wijit established Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and served as its rector till 1987. The university, known for its innovative approach to education, is acclaimed worldwide for its role in promoting long-distance learning.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Professor Wijit also held prominent political offices. He served as a senator, an MP, and as the permanent secretary of the then University Affairs Ministry. His final political role was as the education minister from 2006-2008, Bangkok Post reported.

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Atima Homtientong

Atima is a dedicated news writer living in Bangkok. With a degree from Mahidol University, she focuses on reporting key issues and happenings around the country. In her off time, Atima enjoys writing and producing music.

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