MICT & ME take preventive measures against possible “Twitter revolution” in Thailand?
another interesting news is about MICT new project to “pro-active” (or shall we say “pre-emptive” ? 😉 ) project to “Educate” the rurals about internet :
Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has announced plans to build community ICT centres in all districts across the country, pending budget approval of 400 million baht (US$11.7 million) from central government.
The ICT centres will be open to all citizens, regardless of age and gender, according to Sue Lor-Uthai, Permanent Secretary for MICT. People in the provinces will have access to digital and online content. The ICT centres will also be expected to serve as education hubs.
If approved, MICT will work with agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission and state-owned TOT Public Company Limited to roll out the project across the country’s 800 districts.
Just last month, MICT announced a 40 per cent budget cut in the fiscal year 2010, from 3 billion baht (US$87.8 million) to 1.2 billion baht (US$35.1 million).
Sue said he expects the budget for the project to follow from the second round of Thailand’s fiscal stimulus excercise.
I am sure that MICT (and others as Thai MSM, NTC and police) is fully aware about the strong influence and role of internet on local politics. that’s why it has previously unleashed its wrath on all the blogs and websites of opposition, along with literal “Media War” officially launched by gov. back in April.
it is also interesting to notice that presently most of internet users in Thailand are people who are largely PAD followers or elite and also well-to-do folks.
naturally peasants and poor laborers, and even the poor middle class in cities, can hardly afford to buy a computer and pay monthly bills for phone-line and high-speed internet (which is essential for being able to have even basic on-line “Chat” – what to speak of watching YouTube and other on-line videos or listen and watch streaming on-line TV or radio). and even those who somehow manage to get such – they would still be too busy earning money for their families and not have enough time to participate in all the on-line forums, discussion boards, other social networks as MySpace, Facebook etc. or Twitter.
so, I am sure that MICT knows all this very well and therefore realizes about very low chance of anything similar to Iranian “Twitter revolution” (which anyway in itself is quite questionable – read articles mentioned in comments here) – then why it is so concerned about making sure that rural Thais get the internet access?
well, of course one of obvious reasons is – getting the kickbacks (pocketing some money) from the whole B400mln project. in other words – this ministry is trying to get its own “slice of cake” – after the very recent approval of 2 giant loans by gov.
another reason – sort of PR campaign, to try to improve its own image after the critisism by international groups of heavy censorhsip – sort of “see, we are trying to improve the state of public access to the modern technology and facilitate freedom of speech“.
next reason is also may be – sort of winning the favorable opinions of local public, like “we are actually dooing job what we’re supposed to – improving the ICT in the country and helping people to get a better access to new technology” – as they say “ICT centres will be open to all citizens”
but I think more important reason is as I consider it as a clere “preventive strike” – because it is already mentioned that these MICT centers will be more like an “education hubs”, which I guess is a clear indication that these centers will NOT be sort of “FREE internet cafes for poor”, but rather a centers of PROPAGANDA by government. and I am almost sure that certain software will be already pre-installed that to filter, block, trace, spy on the content used by “all citizens“, as well as – all the “teachers” and “instructors” who would “Educate” people there in those MICT centers would undertake the rigorous training, and in fact probably would act rather as unofficial gandarmes or watchers of WHAT those “all citizens” will read, search and view on computers in those MICT centers.
I mean, the main point is , as saying goes: “it is too good to be true” ! why would the local Thai highly conservative Establishment give ANYTHING for free, and thus willingly facilitate the risky TRUE education of masses – not some large scale Propaganda and brainwashing ?
it also coinsides with the notion expressed by PAD and many Thai academics that rural people are “uneducated” and “misinformed” and that’s why they support Thaksin and his political parties – that’s why peasants need to be “educated” (0r as PAD said “re-educated”).
so, this MICT plan fits quite well into this design of “re-education“. and it seems like this is indeed some well orchestrated efforts, because the theme of “educational hub” is present in similar campaign of not only MICT but also another Ministry – of Education:
Thai governments like to talk about how they plan to turn the country into hubs for many things – from car production to medical service. The current government has floated an idea to turn Thailand into an international educational centre…
First of all, Thailand will not be able to become an education centre if the national education system fails to produce qualified human resources for the nation.
Education Minister Jurin Laksanawisit earlier this month said the ministry planned to spend Bt3 billion [almost $88mln] to turn Thailand into an educational centre by increasing the number of foreign students at home…
However, the plan will not be effective if the rest of the schools and colleges in Thailand fail to keep up with international standards.
After all, the underlying objective of the educational centre plan is to improve the quality of Thai students by increasing their exposure to international students studying here. By promoting an international environment, the ministry hopes to inspire local students to be more eager to learn and to think in a world where everything is becoming closely connected.
The fundamental issue to be addressed is not school buildings or modern equipment. Instead, much effort must be put on the content side of our education. Modern buildings cannot guarantee quality of students, if the classroom teaching is still below par.
The massive budget for this purpose will be a waste if the money is aimed mostly at materials, instead of the quality of teachers, library resources and an effective curriculum. And these things take time. For instance, schools should inspire the students by providing books and access to information for students to research on their own, and promote the reading habit in students. Unfortunately, libraries in several schools and colleges do not have sufficient resources to respond to the students’ needs.
The monolithic Education Ministry should also be reformed to ensure the curriculum responds to the changing world. While the students will have more international exposure, the students should be aware and appreciative of their background to enable them to progress based on their unique character. [aka “Thainess” ? 😉 now, pay attention to the next paragraph ! ]
It will not be a wise idea for Thai schools to copy the entire curriculum from other countries with different social and economic environment. [in other words – “Thainess” nust be preserved and strongly instilled – ideas as “Unique Thai-style Democracy” ] An effective education system should develop the students based on their strengths and backgrounds. [aha, I guess class differentiation, or rather discrimination! and here it comes, in next sentences : ] For instance, Thailand is an agricultural based country and many Thais live close to nature. Thus schools should help instil environmental awareness among students, and resource management [or to be “self-sufficient” ? 😉 ] should be included in the school textbook. Or, the study of history or the languages of our neighbouring countries should be promoted to enable students to better understand their backgrounds and others and to live peacefully in a multiracial world.
Finally, the aim should be to prepare students to become good global citizens. Therefore, the software side of this learning process should be enhanced [wow! I guess it means – software which would instil values and ideas propogated by Establishment? ] . Otherwise, students would just learn how to memorise and they would not be equipped with sufficient knowledge to make good judgements [like : “Calm, peace, solidarity” mentioned in previous post or “thou shall not vote for certain politicians and parties” ?] .
… the education system does not effectively encourage students to adapt what they have learned from the class and develop their own thinking.
The right combination [I guess that means: “not too much of free and critical thinking, with strict adherence to ‘Thainess‘ “ ] of a Thai educational system with an international curriculum would help improve the quality of schools and students and make Thailand an attractive destination for international students…
Well, somehow I get the feeling that there are well educated people in Thai gov. who thoroughly and extensively read the book “Propaganda” by Jacques Ellul and implement the ideas found there to practice ! 🙂 because these this whole “Education” issue so much persued by the present government pretty well fits into what he described as “Pre-propaganda” ! At this moment it looks like gov. through its many Ministries (MIST, Education and Interior) makes coordinated efforts to create the BASE for the further propaganda. and that’s precisely as Ellul has explained it :
“Education or what usually goes by that word in the modern world,
is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda“
“Primary education makes it possible to enter the realm of propaganda, in which people then receive their intellectual and cultural environment… The uncultured man cannot be reached by propaganda“
So, I guess that’s what it’s all about this whole “Education” campaign, using Ellul’s own words :
“need of a certain cultural level to make people susceptible to propaganda”
Because so far peasants are too busy surviving to be properlyy susceptible to FULL onslaught of Propaganda – their needs at the moment are too limited to most basic things as daily food to include Propaganda. therefore they have to be “Educated” to become eligible “propagandees” and thus actually start to NEED Propaganda ! 😀
and I bet that “Democrat” government of PM Abhisit is steadily achieving the goal of this “Education” (read: “Pre-Propaganda” ! )