Prince Mahidol of Songkla: The Father of Thai Tertiary Education

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The Ministry of Education recently presented the title “Father of Tertiary Education” to His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, in commemoration of the 122nd year since HRH Prince Mahidol’s birthday on 1 January 2012.

January 1 marks the birthday of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, the father of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX).

The Prince Father is recognized as “the Father of Higher Education” because of his great contributions to the improvement of higher education in Thailand.

Born in 1892 to King Chulalongkorn and Queen Savang Vadhana, Prince Mahidol of Songkla graduated in Medical Science from Harvard University in the United States. During the first period of his residence at Harvard, he negotiated and concluded, on behalf of the Thai government, an agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation for assistance to Thailand’s education.

In his life, he had a yearning for knowledge and worked devotedly. Thus, the Prince Father set a good example of a learner and a teacher. His work played a crucial role in improving the education in Thailand to meet international standards. He not only initiated good governance for university administration, but he also graciously donated his personal money to support Thailand’s education.

According to Minister of Education Woravat Auapinyakul, although Prince Mahidol of Songkla had been honored with several titles in the educational field, such as the Father of Modern Medicine, the Father of Public Health of Thailand, and UNESCO’s “outstanding personality”, the new title does not overlap them. All these formerly awarded titles are a result of tertiary education. Therefore, Prince Mahidol deserved the title of “Father of Tertiary Education”.

The Prince Father passed away from a severe kidney disease at the young age of 37, on 24 September 1929.


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