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Opening Address by by tyndale


									                             Opening Address by
                                 Dr. Derek Elias
      Asia-Pacific Coordinator for Education for Sustainable Development
  UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok)
                                      at the
  National Launch of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
                                  19 December 2007
                 ESCAP Hall, United Nations Conference Centre
                         UN ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand

Your Excellencies,
       Mr. Paiboon Wattanasiritham
               (Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand)
       Dr. Chinnapat Bhumirat (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education)
       Mr. Winai Rodjai(Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of Basic Education
       Mr. Somyot Singkham(Director of Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Culture)
       Ms. Kanda Vajrabhaya (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development
               and Human Security)
       Dr. Siriporn Kanshana (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health)
       Dr. Saksit Treedej (Permanent-Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and
Ministry affiliates
       Dr. Priyanut Piboolsravut (Project director Sufficiency Economy research Project)
       Associate Prof. Dr. Surichai Wankaew (Director of the Institute of Social Research,
               Chulalongkorn University)
       Ms. Suwanee Khamman (Senior Advisor, Office of the National Economic and Social
               Development Board)
Ms. Gwi-Yeop Son, UN heads and staff,
Madam Chair
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to represent Dr. Sheldon Shaeffer, director of UNESCO Bangkok, here
today at this much anticipated launch of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable
Development in the Kingdom of Thailand.
Fundamentally, the Decade is about education FOR sustainable development and with
this laudable goal in mind it is extremely important to mobilize participation of all partners
in education, including schools, higher education, the media, youth, NGOs, civil society
and the private sector AND it is, therefore, encouraging to see such high-level
representation from several ministries here today representing the cross-cutting nature
of ESD.

Since 1997, UNESCO Bangkok has both followed and been inspired by the His Majesty
King Bhumiphol Adulyadej of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Theory, a development
philosophy which emphasizes the basic principles of integrity, moderation and middle
path, prudance, rationality and balance. Also inspiring to the world is that the main
concepts of Sufficiency Economy have been incorporated into Thailand’s 10th National
Economic and Social Development Plan (2007-2011) and now influences all sectors and
all areas of governance. We at UNESCO Bangkok now closely align the UN DESD to
His Majesty’s theory.

At the school level Sufficiency Economy influences curriculum changes focusing on the
knowledge, values, and skills which help build respect, trust and develop an appreciation
of diversity. As stated by HE the Deputy Prime Minister of Education, Dr. Varakorn
Samakoses, last week at a higher education conference in Bangkok, “the integration of
Sufficiency Economy in education has many linkages and synergies with ESD. Similar to
ESD, it provides a foundation for a true learning society and guides us along a
sustainable path toward human development. The many related aspects under ESD:
environmental conservation and management, appreciation and respect for cultural
diversity, and the promotion of peace and intercultural understanding, are also concerns
shared by Sufficiency Economy. Together they constitute a major shift in Thailand’s
strategy to enhance the quality of education at all levels.”

I would like to highlight some features that distinguish the concept of ESD from other
ideas of education. Firstly, learning in the context of ESD is not limited to formal
education or the young but to all people and all learning experiences. This includes non-
formal programmes such as vocational training; and informal methods such as through
the media, peer groups and traditional learning. Secondly, ESD encourages us to
envision or imagine a better future. So all learning, - and, in fact, everything we do -
becomes relevant and meaningful, not just in terms of building useful skills or obtaining a
diploma or degree, but beyond that, giving people hope and confidence in a better future
in which they can play an active role. Envisioning allows us to know where we want to
be in the future. Thirdly, ESD helps us learn to think in a holistic manner and to take an
intersectoral approach to issues, looking at problems in a more systemic manner and
identifying root causes rather than merely trying to change people’s behaviour at a
superficial level. The ability to reflect on, assess and analyse these issues is also part of
the ESD learning process. And finally, ESD helps us learn to build partnerships through
dialogue and constructive discussion. There are, of course, other features of ESD and
these become important depending on the context in which ESD occurs.

There are four essential components of ESD, which are, perhaps coincidentally, aligned
with the theory of Sufficiency Economy – environmental, economic, social, and cultural.
Simply speaking, we need to learn to transform our behaviours and values –
environmentally, socially, economically, and culturally -- in order to promote sustainable
development. We need to learn to live together in order to help our planet and
humankind survive. And in order to do this, we need to transform the world and
ourselves – change the way we live and the values and behaviours reflected in our lives
and, ultimately, in the education systems which can make a difference in the way we

A moment ago, Ms. Son introduced the four thrusts of ESD. Several examples of
education and learning in Thailand already coincide with these thrusts. I will share with
you some of these examples here.

Under the thrust of promoting access to quality basic education, multilingual education
programs in northern Thailand aim to create a bridge between students’ mother tongue
and the Thai language. Such programs have resulted in increased literacy rates in the
Thai language, fewer dropout rates, and more appreciation for one’s local culture and

Under the thrust of reorienting existing education programmes for sustainable
development, Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s highly-successful
model of “Total School Development” undertaken in Bangkok and Rajburi Provinces
aims to develop the well-being of disadvantaged children and youth through improved
food and nutrition, health and hygiene, training in vocational skills and environmental

and cultural conservation. Through the princesses program, the school is the centre of
learning for the community and the community is a learning resource for the school.

Under the thrust of public awareness, UNESCO Bangkok works very closely with the
Royal Thai government and the Thai world heritage committee on preparation of a World
Heritage dossier for the Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea. This has been an ongoing
project with Chulalongkorn University for the past 8 years in an effort to preserve and
raise public awareness of indigenous cultures along the Andaman Sea.

Under the thrust of training, much work is beginning on pre-service teacher education
programmes at Chulalongkorn and Thaksin Universities; last July Chulalongkorn
University, along with the Thai National Commission for UNESCO, also held a two week
training workshop on Human Security and ESD for Ministry members from countries in
the Mekong subregion; regional training programs on natural disaster preparedness
have also been held as well as workshops to engage members of the private sector in
sharing ideas on corporate social responsibility.

I could offer more examples of ESD-related programmes in Thailand, but what I wish to
emphasize is that many examples of ongoing ESD-related programmes exist in Thailand
to learn from and build on in support of ESD and Sufficiency Economy.

UNESCO Bangkok, with assistance of our partner UN agencies, will do our best as the
Thailand UNESCO Field Office to assist His Majesty and the ministries of Thailand to
link ESD to new and on going programmes in support of EFA, the MDGs and the
National Economic and Social Development Plan (2007-2011), and Sufficiency
Economy theory. At the UN level, we are very happy to be working with our UN family,
particularly UNEP, UNESCAP, UNICEF and FAO through our interagency steering
committee, as well as the ILO, UNDP and UNISDR on a whole range of ESD-related
initiatives in Thailand and in the region. Thailand is now among 13 other countries in the
Asia-Pacific region who are deeply involved in moving ESD forward and developing
national ESD indicators and monitoring systems to assess progress and achievements
during the Decade of ESD and beyond.

Your excellencies, may I take this opportunity to congratulate you on bringing about this
ESD launch event and UNESCO wishes to extend its support to the Kingdom of

Thailand in making sustainable development a very real vision for all citizens throughout
the country. -- Thank you.


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