NXPO President Dr. Kitipong Promwong recently spoke at a forum on higher education, science, research and innovation (HESRI) reform, as part of a training course on science, research and innovation policy development organized for staff of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT). The online seminar was attended by 90 participants. His talk is summarized below.
Over a span of 60 years since the release of the 1st National Economic Development Plan (1961-1966), considerable progress has been made to Thailand’s HESRI system with the establishment of research fund, scientific infrastructure, supporting organizations and a number of regional universities to expand access to education. Several Thai universities now offer education that meet international standards.
In benchmarking Thailand’s HESRI against that of other countries, it was found that countries with high GDP usually had high innovation index. Examples include Korea, the US and Sweden, demonstrating the importance of STI to the economic development.
Thailand’s per capita income stands at USD 8,000/per person/year. To become a high-income country, this number needs to be driven up to USD 14,000-15,000. While the per capita income to USD 10,000/per person/year is not far-fetched, it is unlikely that this income will fairly distributed. At present, only 13% of the population earn average per capita income or higher, whereas farmers and the grassroots make only USD 1,500/per person/year on average. What needs to be done is to ensure that 50% of the population earn the average income. The focus of HESRI reform therefore is to apply STI to strengthen the grassroots.
To create the economic impact, HESRI reform will need to strengthen the system that will effectively link STI to the market, society, community and industry, and organizations within the HESRI system must share the same goal and willing to work cohesively to reach the goal. The National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (Policy Council) provides a framework to facilitate the HESRI system reform and establishes a top-down policy to drive the reform.
Joining Dr. Kitipong as speakers of the forum were Assoc. Prof. Pasit Lorterapong, Science and Technology Counsellor of MHESI; Assoc. Prof. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, Chairman of HESRI Reform Committee; Dr Wiparat De-ong, Executive Director of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) and Assoc. Prof. Pongpan Kaewtatip, Vice President of Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI). All speakers agreed that the reform should also place an emphasis on strengthening scientific infrastructure to make it more accessible to the public and manpower development.