Thai Educator Commits to Chinese Teaching Innovation for 20 Years: Phradhamphawanawikrom, Founder of the First Confucius Classroom

[Source]    CRI Online, China Media Group [Time]    2019-08-22 13:17:51 
 

In Thailand, there is a man praised as a visionary educator, a communicator of Chinese language and culture, an advocate of China-Thai friendship, a pioneer in Chinese teaching innovation for 20 years and the founder of the world’s first Confucius Classroom. This man is Phradhamphawanawikrom.


Phradhamphawanawikrom experiencing Chinese teaching at the newly founded Confucius Classroom in 2006

Phradhamphawanawikrom enjoys great reputation in Thailand and is highly respected by the royal family and social communities. He has prominent social status, distinguished titles, and extensive knowledge. He is dedicated to cultural communication and education undertakings. As early as 20 years ago, he realized the importance of promoting Chinese education in Thailand, and wrote in his book, “Chinese culture, as one of the most important cultures in the world, boasts a long history and has influenced the whole world. Thailand has always had cultural and economic exchanges with China since the Sukhothai period more than 800 years ago. Language communication is the basis of economic and trade cooperation. If Thai people can use Chinese well, there will be more opportunities to promote exchanges between China and Thailand in every respect. This is why I have been committed to promoting Chinese teaching for a long time.” In his view, supporting the development of education can promote social progress, and the development of education must conform to the needs of social development and world trends. “In the past, Thailand communicated with the outside world in English. I believe that Chinese will become an important bridge for communication with the world, especially in business contacts. It will become a very important tool. Thailand and China have been sharing friendly exchanges like family. Thai youths should be fully prepared to become elites of the future.”

With such a forward-looking vision, Phradhamphawanawikrom has been committed to the innovation of education. In 2003, he established the Chinese Education Center in Traimit Wittayalai High School in Bangkok, and later the Long Cai Foundation to provide financial support for the promotion of Chinese language. In 2004, the “Gemstone King Cup Chinese Competition” founded by him was held in Bangkok, Thailand. It has been successfully held for 16 sessions so far, with a cumulative number of participants of more than 60000, making it the largest Chinese language competition in overseas regions. Driven by Phradhamphawanawikrom’s efforts, Chinese and Thai education departments signed a series of cooperation agreements. On November 18, 2006, with the support of the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China, the world’s first Confucius Classroom, the Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School, was established. It has been working with multiple Thai schools to form a Chinese teaching network, setting off a Chinese education boom in Thailand. The Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School has become a model for educational cooperation between China and foreign countries.


Unveiling the nameplate of the world’s first Confucius Classroom, the Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School in 2006

Phradhamphawanawikrom said, “At that time, launching Chinese teaching in secondary schools was also in response to social needs. The area where the Traimit Temple (Golden Buddha Temple) is located is a traditional Chinese community in Bangkok. Chinese people have been living there for more than 200 years. As the establishment of various types of education institutes has been encouraged by the Thai Ministry of Education to meet the needs of the communities, Chinese began to be included in the curriculum of Thai public schools. Later, the Confucius Institute Headquarters opened 100 Confucius Classrooms and Confucius Institutes around the world. We proposed to the Headquarters that Chinese teaching should be started from primary and secondary schools, only in this way can students have a solid foundation for Chinese learning. The headquarters recognized our proposal and opened the world’s first Confucius Classroom in Traimit Wittayalai High School.”

Thailand’s Queen Mother Sirikit, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and Princess Chulaphorn have all met the staff of the Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School. Princess Sirindhorn has participated in many activities organized by this Confucius Classroom. Government heads and high-level personnel from China and Thailand also visited this Confucius Classroom. The Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School has received nearly 20,000 visitors and has been designated as a national-level Chinese cultural attraction by the National Tourism Administration of Thailand. The large-scale activities of the Confucius Classroom have been strongly supported by major overseas Chinese communities in Thailand and the active participation of hundreds of universities, secondary and primary schools. The mainstream media of China and Thailand also paid extensive attention to it.


Princess Sirindhorn visiting Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School in 2011

Phradhamphawanawikrom pointed out, “China’s great achievements in economic development have attracted worldwide attention. Learning Chinese has become the consensus of the whole society. The Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School has played a leading role in Chinese teaching, conforming to social needs and world trends. Thailand has set off a Chinese language craze, and Chinese language courses have been offered in universities, primary and secondary schools. In particular, public schools have opened Chinese courses with Traimit Wittayalai High School as the model. Chinese language education has entered the schools all over Thailand.”

After more than ten years of development, the Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School has been greatly enhanced in both scale and influence. It has been selected as “Advanced Confucius Classroom” twice. For the founder Phradhamphawanawikrom, this Confucius Classroom represents not only an honor, but also the responsibility and dream of his life. It also shows his firm belief in the comprehensive long-term cooperation and mutual benefit between China and Thailand. He strongly insists, “The students who have studied at Confucius Classrooms will have a more international vision. They will look at the world with confidence and embrace a bright future!”

Story by Li Min, CRI Online

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