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Lu Ban's apprentices in ancient capital Ayutthaya

April 26, 2019


Abstract : With the "Luban Workshop" as a platform, outstanding Chinese vocational education concepts and techniques are being spread to other parts of the world.

Students of Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College examine various tools in the "Luban Workshop", Feb. 19, 2019. (Xinhua)

BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Ayutthaya, a place carved by time, finds no parallel in the world.

It is an ancient town dotted with temples and ruins, which testify to its long history and past glory. Built in 1350 on an area less than 15 square kilometers, Ayutthaya is an ancient capital with historical richness, and has been rated by the UNESCO as a world cultural heritage. Ayutthaya of Thailand, Angkor Wat of Cambodia, and Borobudur of Indonesia, are billed as "three ancient capitals" in Southeast Asia, with Ayutthaya being called a "large town" by local Chinese.

It is in this "large town" where Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College sits. A top student Nattavudh, who is about to graduate, has no time to visit the ancient town and ponder on the past. He is worried about his career choice. "I am lucky to receive some nice offers, but I do not know which to pick."

Nattavudh returned from China this March, where he studied. He can speak fluent Chinese and has a Chinese name "Wang Dashan". He said he owes his good luck to "Luban Workshop".

In order to better serve the Belt and Road, China has set up "Luban Workshop" in Thailand, India, Indonesia and other countries, highlighting the image of Lu Ban, an ancient Chinese craftsman. With the "Luban Workshop" as a platform, outstanding Chinese vocational education concepts and techniques are being spread to other parts of the world.

The "Luban Workshop", where Nattavudh studied, is the first branch established abroad. In 2013, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, princess of Thailand, visited northern Chinese city of Tianjin. Back home, she told Chaturon Chaisaeng, then minister of the Ministry of Education of Thailand, that China scored fast progress in vocational education, and the Thai government should pay a visit there. Therefore, Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College, together with several other Thai vocational and technical schools, came to vocational colleges of Tianjin. Afterwards, Tianjin Bohai Vocational Technology College and Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College signed agreements to establish the "Luban Workshop".

Three years ago, after graduating from a middle school, Nattavudh came to "Luban Workshop" to learn automation, a popular major. His classmates come from Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and other ASEAN countries. "A total of 2,000-plus students have received Chinese vocational education training here," Jarun Youbrum, president of Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College, said. He added that the college has become a resource center for neighboring vocational colleges and even those of neighboring countries.

In Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College, the "Luban Workshop" has a modern flavor, where you can find a learning and experience area for bionic robot, a learning and competition area for micromouse exploring maze, a teaching area with automatic production line, and a Chinese and Thai teachers' teaching and research area. Among which, there is a classroom with a large screen. According to Jarun Youbrum, his students can sit here and listen to the distance courses of Chinese teachers, and contact with them whenever a question pops out. Teachers are also sent here from Tianjin for short-term teaching.

Pointing at a cabinet displaying study materials in "Luban Workshop", Jarun Youbrum was full of praise, saying that students can learn visually various mechanical principles in both Chinese and Thai, which is easy to understand and very helpful for teaching.

"The train will be in operation, and come here..." Following the explanation of a teacher, Atiyah, a student of Amphoe Ko Kha Vocational School in LamPang Province in the north of Thailand, is maneuvering the simulated console of China's high-speed train CRH380B together with his classmates. It was the third day that Atiyah came here, and he would take a week-long training course.

"Studying here, we can easily learn the structure of a train and the functions of each part in a vivid manner," said Atiyah.

Lavelle, another trainee, is a big fan of train. He was excited to see the equipment. Just returning from Wuhan, Lavelle still wore the clothes bearing the logo of Wuhan Railway Vocational College of Technology. In China, he learned Chinese language and high-speed rail technologies. He was very much impressed by China's high-speed train. "I enjoyed watching a train passing by my home when I was young. The high-speed train I took in Wuhan was actually flying." He said that he hoped to design railway for Thailand in the future.

On the second floor of the teaching area of the "Luban Workshop" in Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College, a plaque bearing the characters "Lu Ban Gong Fang Tie Yuan Zhong Xin" (Tianjin Railway Technical and Vocational College Center of Luban Workshop) is hanging on the wall markedly. On July 20, 2018, the Railway College Branch of Luban Workshop, established by Tianjin Railway Technical and Vocational College, was inaugurated. It is the first Chinese technical training center featuring high-speed rail abroad.

According to Jarun Youbrum, 4.8 million yuan has been invested in Phase I of the Railway College Branch of Luban Workshop, which offers two majors, namely high-speed train maintenance technologies and automatic control of (high-speed train) railway signals. Since no high-speed train has been built in Thailand, China has arranged everything from teachers, courses, to teaching equipment. Currently, training is being offered to Thai teachers. Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College wants to focus on high-speed train major, seeking to build a talent pool for China-Thailand railway cooperation projects, high-speed trains in the economic corridor of eastern Thailand, and other local high-speed train projects in Thailand in the future.

Originally a program of transnational training, the "Luban Workshop" is now recognized by both China and Thailand as academic education. Thai students can obtain academic certificates acknowledged by both countries. Tianjin Municipal Education Commission has offered full scholarship to students of Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College and other vocational and technical schools of Thailand, with which they can study in Tianjin.

On the day of interview, Bulawei, Natapeng, Wolawan, and Wengwuma, all senior high students, are visiting the "Luban Workshop". They were about to study in Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College and would head for China to learn high-speed rail technologies. They were excited to have such an opportunity, and hoped to put what they will learn into practice.

According to Jarun Youbrum, since its inception, the "Luban Workshop" has introduced majors on automation, new energy vehicle, Internet of Things (IoT), among others. Currently, the college offers 11 majors for technical secondary school, 13 for junior college, and one for undergraduate degree. "All students are excited to visit the 'Luban Workshop'. Since such training platforms are rare in Thailand, we seek to grow it into a role model and base of Thai vocational training," added Jarun Youbrum.

Jarun Youbrum believed that Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College is a leading player among vocational education colleges in Thailand, in terms of software and hardware. The "Luban Workshop" has brought vigor and vitality to the college and the ancient town.

Deep in the heart of every one, there is a "large town". Ayutthaya, the "large town" in the real world, was destroyed in a fire in 1767. However, the "large town" cherished and treasured by people of the ancient capital will always be there. (Contributed by Yang Zhou and Guo Xinhui, edited by Yang Yifan, Gu Shanshan)

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Keyword: Belt and Road international cooperation PD-silk road Luban Workshop

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