After years of rapid economic expansion and population growth, Thailand’s education system is facing strong challenges in areas such as quality and enrolment, the rural-urban divide, links between business and academia, and policy continuity. In September 2013 the education minister established a special committee to assess Thailand’s decline in international rankings for education and to produce a list of needed reforms. Education is the basis of Thailand’s efforts to become a more knowledge-based society, and to move away from its low-wage, low-cost model of development. Given the swift approach of more ASEAN integration and the importance of overseas markets to Thailand’s economic development, education is also vital to the country’s future competitiveness. Meanwhile, Thailand has reached nearly all of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in health ahead of schedule, prompting it to pursue an MDG-Plus strategy in recent years. The biggest lunge forward for Thailand’s health care system has been the introduction of a form of universal health care. Not only has this brought many benefits to ordinary Thais, it has provided coverage to individuals who may have previously been unable to afford health care services. The public system has at the same time been working in tandem with private care, whose high-quality services have made the country a top choice for medical tourism for the region and the world. Funding the universal system is likely to be the most pressing issue in the years ahead. The private sector, too, looks likely to continue its expansion, especially in the provinces, with opportunities for foreign investors in medical education and training, equipment, and supplies.
This chapter contains interviews with Pirom Kamolratanakul, President, Chulalongkorn University; and Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, President, Asian Institute of Technology.