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ASEAN – the Asian European Union

Since we are heading towards the annual English speech competition and this year’s topic is ‘Vocational Education & ASEAN’ (or something like this – topics are told in Thai…) I thought it might be a good idea to go a little more into this topic.

So what does ASEAN actually mean? Many people think that the European Union is something special and unique in this world…well…they are right! ASEAN is not exactly like the EU but in order to ease the explanation we can compare it a little bit.

ASEAN countries
ASEAN countries

ASEAN stands for Association for Southeast Asian Nations. It was started in 1967 by it’s inicial members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

There are usually conferences held in different member countries with different countries holding the chairs at each event. The last conference just finished (December 2011 – in Indonesia) hosting special guests like representatives of the USA and Russia and further important heads of states.

Besides the usual and common sense trading laws that are negotiated amongst the ASEAN members the whole association will be making a huge step towards a European Union – like behavior in 2015. In 2015 borders will losen up and you won’t be in the need for a passport or visa when you are holding a passport from one of the member countries in order to work or live in another member country.

The last mentioned point above is exactly the reason why Thailand now tries to increase their English (and further foreign languages) programes. They realized that other member countries (like Malaysia or Singapore) are way further in educating their students in an international way which enables them to find better jobs more easily. Especially after the borders losen up this will be a huge advantage for students who participated in this educational field.

So Thailand now tries to keep up with other member countries but somehow always loses focus again. Even though many people know what 2015 will happen it still is to far away to appear ‘urgent’ enough. Right now Thailand is in the state of ‘we know we should do something but we aren’t actually doing anything’ – I wonder if this will ever change or if Thailand first has to get his ass kicked when the borders losen up and other (way smaller) countries start to rock the ASEAN community.


This is the speech our student gave regarding this topic (please don’t copy & paste it. Thanks!)

Committee of judges,

Director of Udon Thani Vocational College,

Ladies and gentlemen,

May I introduce myself? My name is Arisa Boochakul. I am a third year student of Tourism Management. It is my great pride and honor to represent my college in this competition on the topic �Vocational Education in the ASEAN Community�.

First of all we should understand what ASEAN stands for. What is the ASEAN community?

The Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established in 1967 through the Bangkok Declaration. The original ASEAN consists of five member states: Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Subsequently ASEAN has welcomed other countries of Southeast Asia like Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and the latest entrance to join being Cambodia in 1999.

Main objectives of ASEAN

The main objectives of ASEAN are to accelerate economical, socio-cultural, technological� and administrative cooperation of all member states, promote peace and security in the ASEAN region and enhance cooperation between ASEAN and international organizations.

Vocational education stepped up for ASEAN

The ministry of education will push forward the development of vocational education to meet the market demand and the upcoming employment rules within the ASEAN region. It improves curricular and personnel to meet the demand of the employment opportunities, assessments on vocational development would also be made and boost the progress and potential of vocational students to prepare them for the challenges that will take place in 2015.

By 2015 ASEAN members will form a community which will prompt greater investments in furthering educational sectors among nations in this region. It is therefore crucial for Thailand to produce graduates with superlative skills to other nations. The graduates from vocational colleges will be able to demonstrate their abilities and qualifications – a step that will be of great help in their projected careers.

Over the past three years businesses have been employing a higher number of vocational college graduates ahead of university graduates. It shows that our occupational market has changed in attitude towards vocational education

English is important

The English language is the most important language of communication to countries world wide, already many ASEAN member states are well spoken. Vocational students must be well versed in the English language achieving a high proficiency to achieve the challenges of the career market.

Will you have the proficiency to address this market?

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at
Sascha is the publisher of and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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