ASEAN Regional Center for Millennium Development Goals

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Education in Thailand

It is May 27, 2011 and two media reports about Thai higher education tell very opposite stories. On one hand, a feel-good news item published in The Nation newspaper trumpets that 5 Thai universities were ranked among the top 100 in the QS Asian University Rankings 2011. Turn the pages of the Bangkok Post, however, and the editorial "Get real about bad education" laments the sorry state of quality at the country's colleges and universities.

Wishing for a brighter future: Every November, students celebrate the Loy Krathong cultural festival at the pond in Chulalongkorn University. Thailand’s ‘‘modern knowledge management enterprises’’—universities—are in need of extroverted and visionary leadership.
So who is to be believed?
This tale of two headlines offers useful instruction about the pitfalls of our new obsession with university rankings. Though they capture considerable press attention, international university rankings are not measuring all that is great about universities and their true worth to society.
Moreover, in the race to have their top national institutes climb the ladders of the world's competitive league tables, many countries are in fact racing to the bottom by not providing quality, relevant education systems for their citizens.
Although some assessments of universities' outputs occurred as far back as the mid-19th century, it really wasn't until the 1980s that public analyses of educational institutions became popularised in the mainstream media.
Fast forward to today, and we see that higher education is now a borderless global public good. With the worldwide marketplace for higher education projected to reach some 250 million students in 2025, rankings advocates say cross-national comparisons of the strength of institutions are a necessary way to impose international benchmarks.
Nowadays university rankings are the rage all around the world, and over 50 countries have national rankings. Americans read the US News and World Report, Australia has it's The Good Universities Guide and Canada is home to the well-read Maclean's University Ranking. There are also a number of global rankings with an alphabet soup of names, acronyms and brands such as Times Higher Education, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. It's all very big business, as there are over 15,000 higher education institutions around the world that can potentially be ranked.
The question then becomes: What is being measured, and why?
Amid the plethora of methodologies and criteria used to compare, say, university A with university B, quantitative data sets generally pinpoint strengths in teaching, research and international reputation of faculty and students. Assessing these traditional criteria one result almost always emerges _ either Harvard University or Britain's famed "Oxbridge" are crowned the world's best, along with a smattering of the other American Ivy League and California-based rivals.
Not surprisingly, all are also tops in terms of financial endowments reaching many billions of dollars. Harvard's endowment in 2009 was about US$26 billion, about the size of the GDP of Panama and larger than the economies of 98 countries.
For these globally-focused comprehensive universities possessing similar resources and orientation, uniform rankings are probably useful.
Indeed, arguing the relative merits of the scholarship happening at Cambridge, Massachusetts versus Cambridge, England is a fair debate, and even a fun pursuit. However, very few universities in developing countries can ever afford to compete with the finances available to these super-elite universities, to avail of the world's who's-who of intellectual talent, and to pick and choose from what is considered as cutting-edge research.
But even if they could, should they even try? Probably not, said experts at a recent forum organised by the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation, the Institutional Management of Higher Education and the World Bank. Rather than trying to "keep up with the Joneses" and conforming to the prevailing mono-culture approach to higher education by funnelling scarce public funds to create flagship universities, governments would be advised to ignore the rankings altogether.
Better to focus on the entire education system from kindergarten to post-graduate levels, to produce sufficiently skilled citizens who can benefit from inclusive socio-economic growth.
It's sometimes said that it is "what is counted" that counts. If true, it's time to employ arithmetic that adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides new indicators for those universities too often left out of traditional rankings.
Here the emphasis would be on relevance, value and impact of scholarship. For example, categories could be created, weighted and tilted in favour of the overall added-value a particular school contributes to society and to improving people's well-being through progressive education, skills development, appropriate vocational training, respect for principles of corporate social responsibility and community investment.
Indeed, one wonders just how many university rankings would be reversed if they were litmus-tested along the principle of "Do as I teach, not as I do"?
Development of the whole individual also requires appraisal of character, values and personality, important things which are not measured _ but should be. In an age when social inequality is on the rise, surely it's a reasonable idea to tally a university's ability to educate socially-conscious graduates. At a moment in history when energy, water and food are defining issues in a world frightened by the prospects of resource scarcity, population growth and climate change, shouldn't scholarly research and real life societal outreach done by universities in the developing world be worth just as much to a school's reputation, as the number of Nobel laureates on the faculty of a university in the West?
How about putting schools' sustainable development, poverty reduction and green curricula up for competitive review and critique?
Beyond simply measuring the number of international students at a school, wouldn't counting the number of students from least developed countries indicate a school's true commitment to internationality and global development?
A poor indicator currently used is the number of foreign nationalities "represented" at a university, which does not review the real weight and quality of its inter-cultural responsiveness. It is time to evaluate "expatriatism" as a more precise appraisal of extroverted attitudes, just as it is done in many other business sectors. Expatriatism could be rated by monitoring the extent of third-culture populations at universities, foreign-national ratios, North-South composition for students and professors, as well as multilateralism of shareholders and the international geographical location of campuses.
Extroverted and visionary leadership of "modern knowledge management enterprises" (read: universities) could be measured by assessing the ratio of teaching, research and outreach directly linked to the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals and to the advancement of human rights agendas _ all factors which are essential drivers of the world's capacity to respond to global risks and fulfil humankind's hopes for justice and freedom.
Any top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to universities that eschews diversity is an uninspiring model for humanity. A new paradigm or "social engagement scorecard" for ranking universities across the world would instead break free of homogenised evaluation regimens and make the rankings more productive for countries struggling to improve the quality of their entire education systems.
Such an approach would value the complexity that exists in academia. It would recognise the inherent worth of institutions' mission statements within national, regional and global development scenarios and cultural contexts.
Ultimately, viewing the rich contributions of universities through a new set of lenses could catapult many erstwhile also-rans into the rarified air of "the world's best".
And any university that wishes to be ranked amongst the world's best should also be happy to compete "to make the world better".

Prof Dr Said Irandoust is President of the Asian Institute of Technology. Dr Sandro Calvani is Director of the Asean Regional Centre of Excellence on Millennium Development Goals, AIT.

Thursday, June 30, 2011



The policies of the world are changing and taking twist to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change. Quantifying carbon offset or carbon trading is becoming one of the leading options to reduce the carbon coming out in the environment and challenging the people to face it. Many organisations have already started taking the advantage of carbon trading and many are under process to get benefit from this emerging market. However, most of the beneficiaries are corporate houses and companies who were earlier big polluters to environment and by decreasing their carbon emission; they are getting advantage of carbon trading i.e. “the polluters are getting the advantage of Carbon trading”.
On the other side, the people living in the forest region (Indigenous people) who are less responsible for polluting the environment and are not responsible for GHG emission are facing opposition from rest of the world directly or indirectly. These people are responsible for the safety of the forest for a long time, but they do not get any prize for it. These people are the right beneficiaries to get the credit of saving environment. Nevertheless, sometimes the situations become worse when instead of getting advantage these people have to fight with the authority and government for the existence of their home and the nearby forests where govt allow companies to establish their plants. Hence, it creates a new type of discrimination between the people living in forest and the polluters, which is raising a new question among the policy makers.
Deforestation and forest degradation is now becoming one of the burning topic and challenges among the world. It is creating the problem for not only food security and human development but also creating the uncertainty about the future of environment and its effects leading to climate change. More the climate change taking place more the situation is becoming adverse to sustain, especially for populace living in the rural area and forests and is not responsible for pollution but directly or indirectly saving the climate. However, the powers of these indigenous people are becoming weaker due to migration and lack of opportunity available locally to survive.
Income generation, basic infrastructure, market access, new technology and awareness about the new technology are the need of the indigenous people living in rural areas or forest areas. It will facilitate them to increase not only the level of lives but also the development of their community, be it social, economical, political and ecological consequences. It can be prioritised only through education.
The education will make them able to understand the value and of trees and how to generate income by living in that reason without migration. The proper schooling will increase the standered of living and the skills to sustain and to be in contact with the world, which will lead to access of market. Schooling will also increase daily wages and will help to stop deforestation in that region. The proper training and schooling will increase the locally based entrepreneur skill of the people which will accelerate tree planting since it is the main source of income in that region.

The 2.2 billion young people worldwide under the age of 18 will be the ones that have to cope with the impacts of climate change. After 20 years, these people will be the main workforce of the world and will work in different region for different purpose. These people have the potential to lead the world from front to save climate. However, these workforce need to be trained with proper tool to cope with the environment and with society. This can be done with the help of millions of community based education initiatives and schools around the world. This will be useful in involving the indigenous forest community in reforestation and climate change education.
School- based nurseries will be the effective way to train the students about the environment and plantation. These students can handle the care for saplings for an initial three to five year period until these are planted in the forest and then these plants can be sold to the REDD+ projects, which will generate the income for school.
The School based nurseries will have following pros-

  •             Skill and knowledge development
  •             Increase in entrepreneur skills
  •             Income generation and no migration
  •          Will be the effective channel to teach parents and        community as these children will go to home and will discuss the curriculum
  •          Environment awareness among young people, Hence long term benefit

These pros show the project will be sustainable and will have long-term benefit. However, School based nurseries will have to face some challenges too, as described below-

  •        Investment in forest may have negative effect on economy, can be misused, and hence increase corruption
  •             Project risk- inadequate resources, financial risk
  •             Baseline risk- poor performance, less demand in market
  •             External risk- policy risk

Sanjay Kumar Sah
(Intern- ARCMDG, AIT Bangkok)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nuclear Power

Germany is on the way to end the Nuclear Power Plants.
USA is also decreasing the no. of nuclear power plants and is moving towards the renewable energy.
So what about the developing countries, which increasing the no. of nuclear power plants??????

BBC News

Anti-nuclear protester in Munich, 28 MayGermany saw mass anti-nuclear protests in the wake of the Fukushima disaster
Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.
The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March's Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
'Sustainable energy'
Mr Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again. An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said.
Mr Rottgen said: "It's definite. The latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision."
Mr Rottgen said a tax on spent fuel rods, expected to raise 2.3bn euros (£1.9bn) a year from this year, would remain despite the shutdown.
Mrs Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats met their junior partners on Sunday after the ethics panel had delivered its conclusions.
Before the meeting she said: "I think we're on a good path but very, very many questions have to be considered.
"If you want to exit something, you also have to prove how the change will work and how we can enter into a durable and sustainable energy provision."
The previous German government - a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens - decided to shut down Germany's nuclear power stations by 2021.
However, last September Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition scrapped those plans - announcing it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years.
Ministers said they needed to keep nuclear energy as a "bridging technology" to a greener future.
The decision to extend was unpopular in Germany even before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant.
But following Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and announced a review.
Greens boosted
Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base.
Before March's moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy.
The anti-nuclear drive boosted Germany's Green party, which took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March.
Shaun Burnie, nuclear adviser for environmental campaign group Greenpeace International, told the BBC World Service that Germany had already invested heavily in renewable energy.
"The various studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that renewables could deliver, basically, global electricity by 2050," he said.
"Germany is going to be ahead of the game on that and it is going to make a lot of money, so the message to Germany's industrial competitors is that you can base your energy policy not on nuclear, not on coal, but on renewables."
Shares in German nuclear utilities RWE and E.On fell on the news, though it had been widely expected.
But it was good news for manufacturers of renewable energy infrustructure.
German solar manufacturer, Solarworld, was up 7.6% whilst Danish wind turbine maker Vestas gained more than 3%.

Monday, May 02, 2011


In response to the declaration of the ASEAN Regional Roundtable and following the TOR of the center, the objectives are as follows:
  • To popularize the MDGs, by spreading, disseminating, and propagating information on MDGs, starting with 4 Goals: Goal 1, Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger; Goal 3, Promotion of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women; Goal 7, Ensuring Environmental Sustainability; and Goal 8, Global Partnership for Development, throughout the ASEAN Region.
  • To develop and offer pedagogical modules, educational materials and tools for MDGs training in government and academic institutions, civil society, NGOs and private sector, complementing similar initiatives by other Centers of Excellence on MDGs operating elsewhere in the world.
  • To help establish National Centers of Excellence, starting with the ASEAN Region and to exchange information and competencies on MDGs between the Centers of Excellence.
  • To stress the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as a cross-cutting issue of all MDGs, viewed within the human rights perspective and linked to the MDGs.
  • To establish a bank of trainers and of networks of experts in MDGs and to train the trainers and professionals involved with MDGs.
  • To conduct research of psycho-pedagogical impact for the spread of MDGs.
  • To collaborate and cooperate with internal units of AIT and external institutions, countries and regional organizations, including UN, NGOs, civil societies engaged in MDGs focused activities.
  • To document research on related themes of the MDGs and to disseminate the impacts of MDGs

Saturday, April 30, 2011