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International Diploma of Sustainable Development to revolutionize Phuket education

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: A new International Diploma of Sustainable Development course being established by Prince of Songkla University (Phuket Campus) is the beginning of an education revolution in Phuket.

“Transforming the educational paradigm to provide a rich and vibrant education” is the goal of the new Andaman International College of Arts and Sciences to be opened in 2015, which was announced by Dr Chantinee Boonchai, the project director of the new diploma course.

The program will consist of two years of integrated arts and science subjects and two years specialized major subject studies. Participants in the program will also link up with international universities specializing in their field of study.

The diploma is a stride in the direction of realizing that the future belongs to the young people of Phuket. The youth will inherit this 576 square kilometer of island, with its mountains, forests, plantations and sandy beaches; they need to be empowered with the skills and wisdom to manage the ecological heritage, generate prosperity and wealth, as well as strengthen the collective institutions of the community and help to give each person and family a sense of well-being.

The right training will provide practical skills for the commercial sector and policy skills for all levels of government. The key issues of water, waste, energy, marine bio-diversity, food security, health and well-being (including impacts of official and non-official population growth) will be firmly tackled in the program’s curriculum.

These skills must be developed at all education levels, not just at the university level. Teachers must move away from using rote learning and conformity to developing creativity, so that students can become empowered to think independently and solve problems for themselves.

Project based learning (internships and applied work practice), reflective learning (participatory action, observation and inquiry) and group based learning (team assessment and group work) is the right approach to instill critical thinking skills in students. This style of education could be described as learning about the environment, learning for the environment and learning in the environment.

For it to be successful, the new International Diploma of Sustainable Development must respond to specific local and regional issues by providing a vocational skills-based program that would enable graduates to immediately gain access to business, government and community workplace positions.

The vocational emphasis should be on workplace and community settings, which could include projects such as working with a local village community on recycling and waste management. Where and when it is possible, the projects must start with the local community leader, the projects must start with the local community leader, who can work with students and local community members to research, plan and engage, as well as set up a broader system that improves the environment and provides greater income to the community.

Now is the time for change, and a new Phuket is on the horizon.

— Dr Peter W Harris


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