Suksapattana Foundation and the Lighthouse Project

The name “Suksapattana Foundation” means the “Development of Education,” in Thai. It was founded by several MIT graduates living in Thailand. The Foundation believes that the greatest force for the improvement of our daily lives and the competitiveness of our economy is the reform of the education system. Therefore, they have implemented a plan to make a quantum improvement in education.

In November 1997 the Suksapattana Foundation, in collaboration with MIT Media Lab led by Professor Seymour Papert, launched the Lighthouse Project. The idea was to develop the Constructionist practice for learner-centered learning and lifelong learning. The Project addressed the economic issues of rural and urban poverty that over the long term could only be solved by education. Leveraging on technology helped address the issues of equality of opportunity for education and for social mobility by providing equal access to information and learning materials by e-library and e-facilitators (without detracting from the primacy of direct contact with facilitators.)

The Suksapattana Foundation is presently working on 2 levels, macro and micro. At the macro level, the Foundation presented advice on how to implement national education reform. This presentation was based on the concept initiated by Michael E. Porter in “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” that education is the key to an increase of productivity that will lead to becoming a competitive nation with a better quality of life. At the micro level, the Foundation is working through a series of pioneering programs called the “Lighthouse Project.”

The objectives of the Lighthouse Project can be summarized as follows:

Lighthouses are just one of many kinds of aids that navigators have used to find their way in difficult places. Sensible sailors always use many aids: the compass, the map, the stars and most importantly their good common sense.

The Lighthouse Project does not presume to “’solve the problem of education in Thailand”. It does not even presume to show the way to the solution. It is both more modest and more ambitious, in hoping to be an aid to many people and institutions that will be trying to navigate many different routes to many different kinds of better learning.

The Lighthouse Project will mark channels that some might want to take and rocks that they might want to avoid.

The Lighthouse Project seeks to inspire sustainable strategies that could be diffused with the help of technology to transform communities and economies and to support the National Education Act passed in 1999. These strategies are not only applicable to Thailand but also to other countries, both advanced and developing.

Professor Seymour Papert set out his ideas about the Lighthouse Project in a Proposal (Main Version) and advised that several pilot projects should be tried to learn about learner-centered learning. Thus, many pilot projects were initiated during 1997-1998.