Strategies to Reorienting Higher Education Institutions Toward Lifelong Learning Higher Education Institutions in Thailand

Strategies to Reorienting Higher Education Institutions Toward Lifelong Learning Higher Education Institutions in Thailand

Suwithida Charungkaittikul, Archanya Ratana-Ubol, John A. Henschke
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2019100102
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The study proposes strategies to reorient higher education institutions toward lifelong learning to serve lifelong adult learners in Thailand. The Ethnographic Delphi Futures Research (EDFR) approach was used for data collection. Additional research instruments used were in-depth interviews, a questionnaire “Measurable Performance Indicators [MPI] for Lifelong Learning,” SWOT Analysis form, focus group discussions, and a strategic assessment form. The results revealed five national and seven institutional strategies with several sub-details for each strategy. Finally, the suggested strategies could help higher education institutions world-wide to strengthen the policies, processes, and change apparatuses.
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We are experiencing significant changes in the area of work and witnessing major shifts to the world of globalization, a knowledge-based economy, and technological evolution, where knowledge is considered as a country’s most valued asset and primary source of power. (Knight, 1995). In this period of change and transition, the competitive advantages of each country consequently depend on the availability and maintenance of a labor force with the necessary knowledge, practical skills and ability to innovate. Therefore, many countries have respected the new developmental concept to promote the continual learning of individuals and society.

Amid the changing society and continued development in the 21st century, many countries have identified strategies and are prepared to deal with potential changes. Hence, countries like the USA, Finland, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand, have developed educational reform measures aimed at enhancing individual’s efficiency in terms of knowledge, attitudes, and values. This efficiency enhancement should in turn help to boost the economy, society, and life quality (human and social capital). Today’s universities have been global and international institutions for the benefits of the public and not simply be a profit center. Altbach and Knight (2007) indicated that globalization is the context of economic and academic trends that are part of the reality of the 21st century. Internationalization includes the policies and practices undertaken by academic systems and institutions - and even individuals - to cope with the global academic environment. Many individuals gain opportunities to access higher education and pursue sustainable development (Chiengkul, 2009). Historically, education was premised on the archaic assumption that purpose was the transmittal of knowledge; what was known. When our years of longevity were more than the time span of social cultural change, this equipped us and was valid for life. Years of individual longevity; timespan of social change (e.g., massive inputs of new knowledge, technological innovation, vocational displacement, population mobility, change of political and economic systems, etc); are the important reasons for higher education to promote workforce development using lifelong learning. Nonetheless 86 years ago, Whitehead (1931) articulated an era of transition that “We are living in the first period in human history for which the assumption is false... today this time span of social and cultural change is considerably shorter than that of human life, and accordingly our training must prepare individuals to face a novelty of conditions (pp. viii-xix).”

Under this new condition, knowledge gained at any point of time is largely obsolete within a matter of years; and skills that made people productive in their twenties become out-of-date in their thirties. So, it is no longer functional to define education as a process of transmitting what is known; it must now be defined as a lifelong process of continuing inquiry. Thus, the most important learning of all - for both children and adults - is learning how to learn, the skills of self-directed inquiry. Such a variety of challenges in the 21st century are major obstacles to the country’s development in the long run. The society is plagued with several obstacles and imbalance in development of almost all aspects. For instance, low quality in education and learning; an unequal opportunity to access (e.g., knowledge and learning resources, infrastructure, exclusive public services, economic background, and information technology system); and a lack of skill and ability to adapt theoretical knowledge into practice. These obstacles eventually result in low labor productivity, etc. (Pongpaiboon, 2007; Charungkaittikul et al., 2013, NESDB, 2017). The society should be geared toward development as a learning society which acts as a major mechanism for the government’s economic and social development (Charungkaittikul & Henschke, 2014; Charungkaittikul, 2016).

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