Spotlight on Seminars: Bangkok Media Conference 2008

Fall 2007 Jefferson Fellows Johnny Brannon (Honolulu Advertiser), Dante Ramos (Boston Globe), and Christina Larson (Washington Monthly) interview Cambodians at a temple near Phnom Penh.


New Generation Seminar participant Kalolaine Moeaki of Tonga’s Ministry of Education (center) presents a gift to the principal (right) of Shanghai’s innovative South Dong Chang Middle School.


Students from Shanghai’s leading math-science magnet high school show seminar participants different projects on display.


New Generation participants interacting with an elementary school English class.

The Bangkok Media Conference 2008, “CHANGING DYNAMICS IN THE ASIA PACIFIC: Power Politics, Economic Might, and Media Challenges,” will be held January 20-23, 2008, commemorating 40 years of the Jefferson Fellowships program for journalists. This conference will provide the most current information on the big stories in the Asia Pacific.


2008 will be a big year for China. Leading Chinese journalists, foreign correspondents and other experts will talk about the Olympics, the impact of blogging, and other important China stories. The conference will also cover Burma insights from leading Burmese journalists and frontline views from Northeast Asia and Korean peninsula, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific islands, plus key issues that will impact the 2008 U.S. presidential elections and U.S.-Asia Pacific relations. Panel sessions will include topics such as Covering Conflicts; Migration and Human Trafficking in the Asia Pacific; and Covering Infectious Diseases featuring senior U.S. and Asian health reporters.


Participate virtually through regular conference updates on our interactive blog site, visit:


For more information on conference speakers and other program highlights, visit:


Young Leaders Explore Educational Reform in the Asia Pacific


Sixteen policy makers from the Asia Pacific and the U.S. participated in the Freeman Foundation-funded 17 thNew Generation Seminar held in mid-October, looking at the challenges and changes taking place in the schools of Japan and China.


U.S. participants were impressed by the strong value placed on education in Asia. Nevada State Legislator Chad Christensen noted that, “Japanese families have placed significant value on education—students are very disciplined as “performance in education” has become a family value….Kids know why they are in school.” Drupti Chauhan, a legislative analyst from North Carolina, felt that there was a “much stronger linkage in Japan and China between the value of education as a social ladder.” They also were surprised to see so much educational success despite large class sizes.


Kessara Amorvuthivorn of Thailand saw that “a good education system needs a well-planned structure of resource mobilization, engagement from local entities and communities, and empowerment of school management and teachers. To achieve this, a good strategy developed by the MOE (Ministry of Education) is required.” Indian participant Ranvir Prasad was impressed by the high level of investment in primary education in the U.S., Japan and China as compared to India, and is now convinced of the “importance of elementary education for economic growth.”


The program participants visited four very different schools in Honolulu and explored the role of education in preserving and perpetuating native languages and traditions through a discussion with the principal of Kamehameha High School.  While in Hiroshima they visited a small town elementary school and the new provincial magnet high school, a model institution set up to compete with the growing private school system that threatens enrollment at public schools.


In Shanghai, Professor Zhang Hua of East China Normal University, spoke on China’s educational reforms, and characterized the overriding issue as an identity crisis for Chinese in the post communist, emerging industrial modern age. Visits to area schools then demonstrated the extent to which China is truly implementing school-based reforms with some of the most modern techniques and philosophies in education today—team teaching, student-centered learning and teacher-directed evaluation.


This seminar provided concrete ideas and perspectives that participants intend to apply to their work as policymakers and community leaders. Hong of South Korea expressed, “as a person working on setting up the education policy of my country, the comparative study of various education systems enabled me to gain a balanced perspective and also to understand my own system better.” Rizwan Ullah Khan, who establishes schools in isolated and impoverished areas of Pakistan’s Balochistan region, found that among other things, the “team teaching concept at schools in Japan and Hawaii has inspired me to initiate similar interventions in my area.” Kinley Rinchen, playing a key role in developing the first University in Bhutan and improving the country-wide educational delivery system, reflected, “with these new ideas and perspectives I am sure I can make a good contribution towards improving my country’s education system. This seminar helped me to think outside the local context of issues.”