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    Preparing Responsible Global Citizens

    Building on the strength of our international programs, Mahidol University recently launches Mahidol University International Demonstration School (MUIDS). The school is a part of the effort to foster effective and responsible global citizens

    MUIDS aims to be recognized worldwide as a model of international demonstration school. Committed to be "Wisdom of the Land", MUIDS offers Grade 10-12 students the premier learning experience. MUIDS strives to provide high quality life-skills based education to enable students to live happily in a global society and to enter universities of their choices, in and outside Thailand. Through the application of best practices in education and the emphasis on experiential and service learning and social involvement, the schooling process facilitates the whole person development and inculcates a sense of responsibility to serve and make the world a better place to live in.

    As well as promising a "world-class education", MUIDS will focus on cultivating students' intellectual understanding and developing wisdom and creativity, fostering ethics and integrity, and helping them build support networks.

    Mahidol University's president, Professor Rachata Rachatanawin, explained that he does not want the school's graduates to become "merely" doctors, engineers or businessmen. As a university, we measure our success by the ability to nurture socially responsible change agents.

    Professor Rachata declared at the conference unveiling the Mahidol University International Demonstration School (MUIDS): "I don't want our students to be just doctors, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, businessmen, sociologists or experts in any particular fields. I'd like them to be socially responsible people in Thai society, to be a part of making Thai society and the world a better place. Problems like corruption are still a big issue in our society, so all students should learn to be disgusted at this practice and other mischievous behaviors and understand that they're unacceptable."

    Former Senator Damrong Puttarn, businessmen Choke Bulkul and his TV newscaster-wife Sukwan Bulkul, and architect Duangrit Bunnag were speakers at the conference.

    Damrong pointed out that many Thais hold university degrees and even doctorates, and yet Thai education ranks poorly compared to most other Southeast Asian countries.

    "There are a lot of problems in Thai education, but the tutorial school is the key indicator that shows how poor our system is. Parents want their children to attend university even though that might not be what the children want.

    "Thai education reform has failed because educators tend to copy foreign modules that aren't suitable for us," the former senator said.

    Businessman Choke Bulkul said Thai education lacks a sound strategy. Thais tend to be "followers", he said, content to admire other people's achievements without striving for their own. "Even though youngsters might study in an international program, speaking English with foreign teachers, their parents often don't realize that kids also need to understand Thai ideology, tradition and values."

    Sukwan suggested that academic excellence isn't as important as acquiring morality and a social conscience. "It's very important to be able to choose between right and wrong," she said. "Every action must have its consequences. If children don't do their homework, their teachers will punish them. Children should learn this."

    They also need to appreciate traditions like showing respect to images of the Buddha, to monks, teachers and their parents, even to the extent of lying prostrate before them, no matter how "out of date" some people regard such practices, Sukwan said. "Thais should always keep to our roots."

    Using an example of a basketball game, Duangrit, a new father, explained that what's on the education scoreboard doesn't necessarily reflect the actual situation. "There is no guarantee that an excellent student will be successful in life. I think, to be a success in the future, a student has to know himself, so that he can produce a given outcome. I don't want my child to grow up and be giving orders to others, but to be inspiring to others."

    MUIDS, based in Mahidol University's Salaya campus, will coach youngsters from Grade 10 onwards in a bid to reform education that prepares the learners for complex and interconnected world. Such global education requires not only broad based knowledge about modern society and latest innovation, but also in depth understanding of Thai values, tradition, and wisdom.

    "We will use English as the language of instruction, but we're different from the traditional international schools in the sense that the educational process will cultivate 'Thainess' in our students," Professor Rachata said.

    Professor Rachata pointed out that Mahidol University aims for academic excellence in the arts and sciences based on "social morality". It takes pride in a long tradition of representing "the wisdom of the land" by advancing higher education. But pre-university education in Thailand is lacking.

    "We all know that educational efficacy in our country is needed from elementary through secondary levels. Mahidol University has given serious consideration to making available quality secondary education that will prepare high-school students for successful and productive higher education."

    Mahidol University is currently offering 368 educational programs covering a wide range of disciplines. Approximately 146 international programs of Mahidol University have attracted students from 40 different countries with exchange programs with 150 institutions worldwide.