Towards the ASEAN Community: Assessing the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Aspirations of Thai University Students

Pinn Siraprapasiri, Chanintira na Thalang


This article assesses the knowledge of, attitudes towards, and aspirations for ASEAN among Thai university students, who are set to enter the ASEAN Community labour market and are among those most in touch with ASEAN issues. It uses data obtained from a countrywide survey and focus group discussions to identify variables that affect knowledge, attitudes, and aspirations and to explore the relationships between knowledge, attitudes, and aspirations. The quantitative analysis conducted here uses students’ fields of study, academic performance, and exposure to both ASEAN-related courses and also information and discussions about ASEAN in the mass media and public forums as predictors of their level of knowledge about ASEAN. The paper’s results confirm that positive attitudes towards ASEAN lead to positive aspirations for ASEAN. They also reveal that significant knowledge about ASEAN cannot, in isolation, adequately explain students’ attitudes towards ASEAN and does not always lead to positive attitudes. These findings and those obtained from the focus group discussions suggest that a high level of knowledge and understanding of fellow ASEAN member countries and their people – whether attained through formal or informal education or social interaction – is needed for students to develop positive attitudes and become aspiring members of the ASEAN Community.

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