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“Mr. Songkran Viracharoenkit”, an educational supervisor at the Primary Educational Service Area Office in Nakhon Nayok, recalls the time when the amount of resources and level of knowledge at schools in his province was very different. Back then, technology was not available to schools and teacher training was outdated, which limited the opportunity for education reform.
As a 19-year-old university student, Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong Lien recognized a need to empower young women in Vietnam. While most young people feel trepidation about tackling such a challenge, Lien chose to address it head-on.
The AEC, meaning ASEAN Economic Community, was established in December 2015 between 10 member states: Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Its ultimate goal is to allow for the free movement of goods, skilled labor, services, and investment. The AEC creates a single market and production base within ASEAN, and it aims to facilitate freer flow of capital. This economic union spans some 630 million people and has a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion. The progress and growth of the AEC leaves it ranked as the 7th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia.
Nattawan Thongkled, or Mam, is part of a new generation who love farming. Mam oversees a 100 rai sugarcane plantation in Phetchabun Province. For many years, she has experienced first hand the high cost of farming, which is very labor intensive, and being put under increasing pressure by rising wages. As such, she was struggling to keep her farm’s finances afloat.
As the secretary of Khlong Lad Pachee’s business cooperative, Mr. Thammasak Maknakorn manages the business operations for the community’s chili sauce and processed mushroom producers. The community has a long tradition of cultivating local ingredients to make these healthy and tasty products for markets in Bangkok. Given the rising healthy lifestyle trend in Thailand, Mr. Thammasak has been trying to connect the cooperative’s products to this lucrative niche market; however, he has found that the cooperative lacks the financial sophistication and marketing know-how to compete with local boutique and international brands.
Jarin Cheicheichom is a fisherman based in Phum Raing Bay, Thailand. He had been leading the Baan Phum Riang Conservation Group for many years, to protect marine life and natural resources in Phum Riang Bay. Although the group’s work had begun to bring back marine life to Phum Raing Bay, in the villagers’ eyes they were considered to be outliers, a peculiar group of fishermen. Crucially, the group was also unable to gain support from local authorities. When they later initiated tourism activities to support this effort, they found the problems persisted.
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Eight months ago, Rojana Boonpetch or Jeed was deep in debt and struggling to find a way out, much like the other sugarcane farmers in Amphoe Si Thep, Phetchabun Province, Thailand.