Thailand's rail education set on high-speed track with Chinese institute offering training

Chayutapong Saentaweesuk (left) and his classmates check a cargo train model used in a railroad signaling system at the Lu Ban High-Speed Railway Institute in Thailand on May 1. (China Daily/Yang Han)

Educator Junyar Pabu is brimming with confidence about the future of his college in northeastern Thailand-and for good reason. The college is set to become a training center for high-speed railway education in Thailand, thanks to its partnership with a Chinese institution.

In April, the Lu Ban High-Speed Railway Institute was set up at Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, a vocational training school at Ban Phai district in Thailand's Khon Kaen province, with the help of Wuhan Railway Vocational College of Technology in Central China's Hubei province. The aim is to enhance cooperation in cultivating talent for the country's high-speed railway development.

"In Thailand, only seven vocational colleges are allowed by the government to start a railway major, and BPIC wants to take the lead," said Junyar, director of BPIC and head of Thailand Vocational Education Society's specialized training course on the railway sector.

"I hope our school can be a training center for teachers in these schools so that they will be able to teach their students in a better way."

Junyar said teachers from Wuhan will come to BPIC to train 40 Thai teachers in July.

The two schools had been working through a "1+1" model since 2016. The students would first study in Thailand for one year to learn Chinese and basic railway knowledge, then go to China to continue their studies in railways.

A new batch of some 30 Thai students will be joining WRC later this month. So far, 103 Thai students from 33 vocational and technical colleges in 20 Thai provinces have been jointly trained, said Cheng Shixing, president of WRC.

With the Lu Ban institute, this cooperation model will be expanded to a "1+2" model, which means Thai students can obtain diploma from both schools. In addition, Cheng said Thai teachers and railway staff can also receive training at the institute.

Nutthanon Seejunto, a teacher from Banphue Industrial and Community Education College, a vocational school in Udon Thani province in northeastern Thailand, has been encouraging his students to join the technical training course on railways at BPIC for the past three years.

Seejunto said, "I think it is a good opportunity for the students because we have the high-speed rail project in Thailand now. I hope more students can (join the training course)."

Kittakorn Wongcharee, a teacher imparting lessons on railways at Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, said students who graduated from the cooperation program are able to find better jobs with higher salary in Thailand.

Chayutapong Saentaweesuk, an 18-year-old graduate in automation from Khon Kaen Technical College, is among the first batch of students to study at the Lu Ban High-Speed Railway Institute this year. He wants to choose the "1+2" model.

"I want to work overseas in the future, so I believe this kind of diploma will be a solid proof when looking for railway-related jobs," said Saentaweesuk.

Zhengzhou J&T Hi-Tech Co, a partner of WRC, donated a simulation driving training equipment to BPIC so that Thai students can have an opportunity to practice.

Wongcharee, the teacher at BPIC, while appreciating the donation, hopes more equipment can be set up at the Thai college for teaching railway systems, including bogies, track work and air-conditioning.

"I hope we can find more sponsors to provide financial support to Thai students, because most of the students are poor and studying in China is kind of expensive for them," said Wongcharee.

From 2016 to 2018, all the Thai students in the "1+1" model received scholarships from both Thailand and China, according to WRC.

In the future, Junyar hopes the institute can set standards or guidelines in railway talent training and issue certificates to students who complete the training.

He expressed the hope that the joint educational cooperation program can go beyond Thailand to help vocational colleges in other Southeast Asian countries, such as Laos, by allowing their students to attend different railway training programs at the institute.

"I think our cooperation with the Chinese college explains what BRI is about," said Junyar. "We walk together and we succeed together."

Editor: 曹家宁
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