Written by Mekong Institute

Economic and social development in the GMS is ultimately dependent on capable human resources which possess the knowledge and skills to recognize and address the development challenges facing the region. In 2012, the MI and the New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, launched the Mekong Institute – New Zealand Ambassador’s Scholarship (MINZAS) Program, to help build a critical mass of human resources in the GMS capable of meeting current and emerging regional issues.  

The MINZAS program provides a four-phase structured learning program conducted over a one-year program-cycle for master’s-level students from CLMT countries undertaking research for thesis topics related to regional development. Through the MINZAS program, recipients receive research funding, skills-development training and exposure to regional subject-matter experts through forums and training sessions.

This comprehensive program assists scholarship recipients to improve their theses through improved analytical and documentation skills. The program also grants valuable exposure to MI’s extensive public, academic and private sector networks.

From March 4 to 27, 2013, MI welcomed the second batch of MINZAS scholarship recipients to its headquarters in Khon Kaen for a training course on research methodology; the first of four program sections. In total, twelve CLMT scholarship recipients attended the training course (three from Cambodia, three from Lao PDR, five from Myanmar, and one from Thailand), which drew on the expertise and experience of MI program staff and regional experts from Khon Kaen and Kasetsart Universities.

During the research methodology training course, scholarship recipients underwent four modules emphasizing the development of academically sound research proposals and as well as new research techniques to assist in fieldwork research projects.

The results of the overall evaluation for the learning program detailed herein reveal that participants were, on the whole, satisfied with the program content, resource persons, recreational activities and training management and delivery.

The sessions of the program were rated as “useful” by participants, who indicated that the knowledge and skills acquired therein could (and would) be applied to their fieldwork research projects. Through the four-week intensive learning course, participants developed new friendships and established region-wide networks. Fostering such connections promotes regional cooperation and stands as a consistent indirect benefit of all of its training courses and programs.

Though the participants were highly satisfied with the learning program, several comments were provided which will help to improve the program for the next MINZAS batch. These comments touched on the limited time for topics/lessons, difficulties involving the English language, data analysis, group discussions, the use of concrete examples, and field visits.

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