Mark Kent, the British Ambassador to Thailand

Mark Kent

British Ambassador to Argentina

Part of UK in Thailand

5th September 2014


Education is the basis of the progress of any society – economically, technologically, politically and culturally. Most governments recognise this and put it at the centre of their policies.

But it is not an easy or quick solution. It can literally take a generation for education policies to bear fruit as young people pass through the system. Results are unlikely to be immediate. Attitudes change slowly. Use of technology is increasingly important but quality of teachers and teaching methods is vital.

I saw this during my own education experience. I went to a local state funded secondary school. Thanks to my teachers I was accepted to study law at university. I didn’t really know much about law, but there was a book on the careers shelf in our small library about being a lawyer which looked quite interesting and I thought I would try for that. My undergraduate education was a fantastic experience. It taught me academic rigour, to judge issues on the facts and to never be afraid to question or challenge. A bad argument does not become a good one simply because the person who is espousing it is important. I then went to another European country to study my Masters. That was a different experience. I enjoyed the social life but was deeply disappointed in the way of teaching. I remember one of the lecturers telling us “if you want to get good marks in the exam, you must write down what I say , and then repeat it back in the exam”. That is not learning or academic development. It is simply a test of memory, or in extreme cases an attempt at brainwashing.

Similarly, if the manner in which learning is approached is important, so is the subject matter. Universities and colleges need to teach subjects which are relevant to the needs of society. One example of this is the rise in the importance of vocational training over the past few years to ensure students have the skills which are needed in the workplace and therefore better equipped to get good jobs. And the growing partnerships between the education sector and industry. In the UK we see this in the joint working of companies such as Rolls Royce with all parts of the education system – from schools to doctoral research. And the world famous Cambridge life sciences park .

Britain is justifiably seen as a global leader in education, particularly popular with foreign students. Like all countries, we need to face challenges, particularly around funding. But the quality of the education, together with the experience of living in a vibrant diverse society and culture, and the ability to consolidate English language skills mean that international students come in increasing numbers. Outside the European Union, Thailand is in the top 10 countries for sending students. About 8,000 Thais studied in the UK last year.

If you are interested in learning more there are helpful sites on the internet such as UCAS  for university applications. Or you can contact the British Council here in Bangkok. I was pleased to welcome Andrew Glass  their new director who started work this week.

We look to share some of our experience with Thailand. So for example the British Council has an important programme about science teaching in partnership with BG . Many British schools have established themselves in Thailand and I hear impressive stories of academic achievement when I attend their end of year award ceremonies. And of course the English language is a globally important tool , in Thailand’s case increasingly so with the creation of the Asean Economic Community. So there are many English Language Teaching schools here. And we have a very successful scheme to send young English Teaching assistants to Thailand. This year 248 came and attended 173 educational establishments throughout the country. Here are some photos of their farewell reception. We hope to see even more next year!

The last dance

2015 ETAs hands up

5 comments on “Education

  1. Education is not just going to school it is the whole experience. The cultures, the people and yourself in different situations. I think Mark Kent has covered that very well. kudos to you.

  2. I totally agree with you Mark Kent., but explain why the Education Secretary ( UK Nicky Morgan ) is suggesting we privatise education?

  3. Thank you for this thoughtful post! Yes education is must important part of the life, Education is must for every person living in this world.
    Education gives us a knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life. People debate over the subject of whether education is the only thing that gives knowledge. Some say education is the process of gaining information about the surrounding world while knowledge is something very different. They are right. But then again, information cannot be converted into knowledge without education. Education makes us capable of interpreting things, among other things. It is not just about lessons in textbooks. It is about the lessons of life. One thing I wish I can do is, to provide education for all: no child left behind and change the world for good!!

Comments are closed.

About Mark Kent

Mark Kent graduated in Law from the University of Oxford. He gained a Master’s degree in European Law and Economics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, and has…

Mark Kent graduated in Law from the University of Oxford. He gained a
Master’s degree in European Law and Economics from the Université Libre
de Bruxelles in Belgium, and has a postgraduate qualification in
Business Administration from the Open University. He has studied Thai at
Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University and Chulalongkorn

Mark Kent joined the FCO in 1987 and has spent most of his career
working with the emerging powers of South East Asia and Latin America,
and with the European Union. He is a Fellow of the Institute of
Leadership and Management and has language qualifications in Thai,
Vietnamese, Spanish, Dutch, French and Portuguese.

Mark Kent took up his appointment in August 2012.