Spiritual Education: Thailand’s Delinking of Learning and Knowledge from the Economy
Keywords:Education, Economy, Thailand, Theravada Buddhism
This article explores an approach to education that de-emphasises material progress in favour of spiritual or religious virtue. While elites attempted to reconcile the desire to use the formal schooling system to inculcate national values for hegemony with the need to engage in economic planning and meet the human capital requirements of higher value-added industrialisation, the emphasis was always on the former, expressed as spirituality or anti-materialism. The article surveys Thai educational elite ideas and attitudes towards the overarching aims of state-provided education during the 1970s and 1980s. In doing so, it seeks to elucidate the relationship between Thailand’s material base and official Theravada Buddhist superstructure as expressed in philosophies of education.
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