Bangkok post> Jobs > Career guide

Government plans to train school children to become guides

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to set up a training programme for students in more than 3,000 schools nationwide under the Education Ministry's "Teach Less, Learn More" pilot scheme, to help them become accredited local tour guides.

More licensed tour guides are needed to cater to a rising number of tourists, says Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

Ms Kobkarn held talks Monday on the scheme with Education Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan at the Education Ministry.

They discussed how the ministries can promote learning outside the classroom as part of the project.

Ms Kobkarn said Thailand once had about 57,000 accredited tour guides nationwide, but that number has fallen to about 30,000.

Official ministry tour guides number about 20,000, while 10,000 work as freelancers.

"Thailand forecasts 28.8-29 million foreign tourists will visit the country this year, while we only have 20,000 tour guides. We have to do better," Ms Kobkarn said.

She said a programme to train students as guides will be included as one of the extra-curricular activities offered in schools when regular classes end at 2pm.

Students wishing to join this programme can take courses giving them a valuable grounding in the tourism industry that could also lead to productive careers.

Students who finish the course will receive "Little Host" certificates and can work as local tour guides, she said. No details were available on whether they would get paid for their efforts, though advocates say the idea is likely to prove popular with tourists, who would also get the chance to meet locals.

Gen Dapong said the project would provide school children with better knowledge about their hometowns, tourist attractions and local traditions. It will also help boost their communication skills and foreign language proficiency.

He expects the programme to create a positive image for the local tourism industry and foster favourable impressions of the country among tourists.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry wants the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to develop a training course for physical education teachers, Gen Dapong added. "We have around 20,000 PE teachers in state schools across the country, but most do not have any sports-related degrees. We want the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to coach our PE teachers," he said.