In the fiscal year of 2002 – 2003, the Office of the Higher Education Commission launched a pilot project called “The Strengthening Community Capacity and Economy Project” which aimed to apply immediate action to strengthen the community economy. As a university is a source of knowledge and technology significant for the development of community economy, nine networks of government universities were established. These networks were in charge of research and passing required knowledge and technology to communities. The project was divided into five sub-projects as follows:
- Establishing a Network between University and Community Project
- Supporting research and development of a database system and training to strengthen the administration capacity of the government, private sector and community Project.
- A Project to strengthen and develop the capacity of university staff to enable them to support communities.
- A Research Project to develop the quality of community products; the project can consequently improve the people’s economy and can possibly reduce importing products and increase export products, particularly from foreign countries.
- Support trainings to expand necessary skills to graduates who work in communities.
It was agreed that Project 1, 3 and 5 are closely linked and hence should be integrated. The targeted areas are divided into 9 regions with the central university in each region responsible for the operation of the project in collaboration with other universities in the network. Silpakorn university, as the main university of the lower central region (western side), is in charge of coordinating between universities and communities in the region. Realizing the importance of these networks, the Office of the Higher Education Commission encouraged them to officially establish their growing potential and sustainability. These networks were allowed to carry out research more independently. Consequently, a network of the lower central region was officially formed and their main duties are listed below:
- Update the network database system
- Improve the strength of the network
- Disseminate the network information through the network website and publication, for instance.
- To encourage a new generation of development workers
- Other duties :
- Collaborate and coordinate with the network members, government and non-government agencies and communities in promoting and supporting research under the Research and Innovation Project in order to pass required technology to a community.
- The Research Management Network of a Lower Central Region is responsible for coordinating research, allocating a budget, monitoring research and disseminating the completed research in the Research and Innovation Project. It is aimed to pass on the technology to community on the ground
- Promote and support a new generation of researchers and integrated research.
- Disseminate information, activities and research findings through the network website.
- Organize activities which can promote and support research and strengthen the community.
- To resolve community’s existing problems and develop community participation.
- When organizing activities, particular concern must be paid torelevant social context: the people’s way of living and the existing resources. Connection has to be made between this information and the provincial and regional strategic plan.
- An area-based collaborative research emphasizing participation with partnership is used as the means for problem solving.
The main purpose of the Research Management Network of the Lower Central Region is to apply science learning processes and collaborative research to community development and problem solving method in the direction as desired by the community people. These activities also aim to stimulate collaboration between community people and university members. Accordingly, five short-term projects have been planned:
- A research project and passing on of knowledge on coconut production technology
- A research project and passing on of knowledge on Agriculture Industry technology
- A research project and passing on of knowledge on Tourism Technology
- A research project and passing on of knowledge on handicraft Technology
The targeted project area is the eight provinces in the lower central region:Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkram, Supanburi, Rachaburi, Kanchanaburi, Petchaburi and Prachuab Khirikhan province.