Women’s Development Funds to Help Prepare Thai Women for the ASEAN Community (05/04/2013)
The Ministry of Education is joining hands with Women’s Development Funds to help develop ASEAN language skills for Thai women across the country.

The objective is to equip women of all occupational groups with knowledge about English and at least one ASEAN language for use in communication, when the ASEAN Community is in place in 2015.

ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprises 10 countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a combined population of about 600 million. The ASEAN Charter stipulates that the working language of ASEAN will be English.

The Thai government has supported all provinces nationwide to set up Women’s Development Funds to promote the varied roles that Thai women play in modern society. The National Development Fund for Women, chaired by the Prime Minister, has agreed that the amount to be allocated by the Government to each province for its women’s development fund would depend on the size of its population.

Each fund is divided into two types – a grant and a revolving funding source. The grant will be used for projects to enhance the potential of women, improve their quality of life, and ease their problems. The revolving funding source will offer low-interest loans for women in order to generate employment and income.

The setting up of Women’s Development Funds is an effort to empower Thai women and provide them with greater opportunities.

According to the Ministry of Education, the language study for Thai women is aimed at building capacity for various women groups, such as traders, farmers, housewives, employees, and young women. Apart from English, they should know the language of a neighboring country, which is close to their area, as well.

The Ministry of Education has assigned the Office of the Basic Education Commission and the Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education to jointly establish ASEAN learning centers in Bangkok and the regional areas of the country. The centers will open courses teaching English and the languages of ASEAN and its dialogue partners.

The ASEAN learning centers in the regional areas will offer four courses. Each course consists of 100 hours, teaching pronunciation, listening, speaking, and culture, with basic, intermediate, and advanced programs.

The Ministry of Education will open an ASEAN learning center at Satri Srisuriyothai School in Bangkok on 10 April 2013. Also attending the opening ceremony will be Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Sansanee Nakpong.

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