Provision of Educational Services in Special Economic Zones in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Yesterday I attended the last day of the Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop at the Asia Hotel in Bangkok organized by the British Council and hosted by Khon Kaen University. The purpose of the workshop is to help foster links between British and Thai academics, particularly early career Thai academics.

My presentation was on Provision of Educational Services in Special Economic Zones in the Greater Mekong Subregion


Special economic zones (SEZs) are time and space-limited areas in which the regular laws of the land do not apply. Instead, various provisions are made to privilege capital above labour and, thereby, encourage domestic and especially international investment. States welcome this kind of investment because it provides direct employment and the prospect of technology transfer and industrial deepening. In the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) (i.e. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Yunnan Province of China and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Zone) SEZs are being enthusiastically promoted because of the help it is hope they will provide states in passing through the Factory Asia Paradigm (FAP) – i.e. import substituting, export oriented, intensive manufacturing based on low labour cost competitiveness and a potential exit from it that would represent graduation from the Middle Income Trap. At various stages of the FAP, it is necessary to provide educational services to employees at different levels of seniority. This might include specific on-the-job training, vocational skills-based education or more advanced forms of learning to foster creativity and innovation. Within the GMS, educational provision has begun to be provided in some of the different types of SEZ that have been opened or which are still being built. More will be expected in the future as, for example, the Thai government has recently called for foreign universities to open facilities within its SEZs to try to meet state-level developmental goals. This paper investigates the current level of provision of such forms of education and compares it with what might be required, together with a brief consideration of how the gap might be bridged.

Keywords: education. Greater Mekong Subregion, special economic zones, vocational education

There is going to be book on the workshop’s themes in due course and I plan to submit a chapter to it.


Management of Foreign Teachers in International Education Institutes in Thailand


Announcing: Putthithanasombat, Phramaha Min and John Walsh, “Management of Foreign Teachers in International Educational Institutes in Thailand,” Journal of Education and Vocational Research, Vol.4, No.8 (August, 2013), pp.230-7, available at:


This paper seeks to determine methods and approaches of managing international English language teachers in Thailand in the context of the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community. Qualitative interviews, focus group and ethnographic observation were used to obtain data. The research shows that schools involved adopt pragmatic approaches to teacher recruitment and management but retain elements of the longstanding paternalistic Thai approach to management of human resources. The research is limited to two research study sites and to a specific time period. Issues are raised concerning the approach of potential international teachers and the means of obtaining employment. The lack of meaningful preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community in the education sector in Thailand is made evident. Management of international school English language teachers in Thailand has been only lightly researched previously and is partly remedied here.
Keywords: Thailand, international schools, management, language

Tourism Education at the Tertiary Level and Competitive Advantage: A Comparison between Thailand and Malaysia

Announcing: Thitthongkam, Thavorn and John Walsh, “Tourism Education at the Tertiary Level and Competitive Advantage: A Comparison between Thailand and Malaysia,” Journal of Education and Vocational Research, Vol.1, No.1 (April, 2011), pp.26-35, available at:


Language plays an imperative role in business as a means and a source of power. It is particularly important in the tourism industry when international customers may be unable to communicate directly with service providers in the receiving country, and this has a direct effect on the level of satisfaction that they enjoy during their experience. To address this issue, countries attempt to various degrees to manage their labour markets so as to produce a number of graduates from secondary and tertiary level educational institutions commensurate with the demand from the sector. However, this is quite a young industry at the global level, and it is not clear to what extent the number and quality of such graduates with international language ability will be required. This paper studies the comparative extent of such education at the tertiary level of individuals in both Thailand and Malaysia. It aims to compare the number and variety of people being trained in the tourism and hospitality industry and the extent to which languages are being taught. Results show that there is something of a disconnection between the languages provided and the languages that tourists desire in terms of their mother tongue. Those tourists who can speak English or Chinese may receive service support in those languages, while those who cannot may be disappointed.

Keywords:  Tourism education, competitiveness, Language, Tourism in Thailand, Tourism in Malaysia