Executive chairman urges Thai students to boost language skills during Fireside Chat' event
From the perspective of a man at the helm of world-changing Google, education is a key for Thailand to become a leader in the digital age.
"Learning foreign languages like English and Mandarin, for example, is important," Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt said in response to a question from a Thai university student, Nasuha Lenuh. During his first official visit to the Kingdom last week, he agreed to meet 10 students and answer their questions.
Among those selected were Nasuha from Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Saowaphak Sorsevee from the Nation University, Panjarat Sirilapporn from King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and Santipong Thiensathaporrn from Maefahluang University.
The two widely used languages, Schmidt said, would help Thais - especially young Thais - keep pace with the world. A knowledge of computer language or computer code would also be important, he added.
"If you know how to write computer code, you can create software."
Schmidt also talked about the learning process and said he wanted to encourage the curiosity of Thailand's youth and their search for knowledge and answers.
"Teachers and students can use the Internet for this purpose," he said. "Teachers are expected to provide students with explanations and students can look up and research the information too."
In this respect, Schmidt hoped Google would play a key role in Thailand as its search engine was a rich source of information.
Eric was also confident that technologies like 3G smartphones and tablets would make it easier for Thais to access Internet-based information.
He was speaking during the "Student Fireside Chat with Eric Schmidt", a part of "Google Big Tent Thailand 2013". Organised by Voice TV and Google Thailand on November 5, the event took place at Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon.
Not all 10 students selected for the Student Fireside Chat were physically present. Kura Kokseenok from Khon Kaen University, for example, posed his question via the Google "Hangout" Programme.
In response to Kura's question about Google's management system, Schmidt said creativity was the crucial element.
"We pay attention to the ideas of everyone," he said.
Jittsupa Chin, the host of Voice TV, asked Schmidt about what he would do to make Thailand become a leader in the digital age, if he worked for the Thai government.
Schmidt said his focus would be on the basic infrastructure for Internet access and freedom of expression. He believed the Internet should be accessible by everyone in the country and that people should be allowed to express their opinions online, including those on political issues.
"This way, we will create lots of opportunities that will lead to further economic development," he said.
In response to Saowaphak's question as to why he visited several other Asian countries before Thailand, including Myanmar, Schmidt pointed to the 2006 military coup.