Conference archive


Mechai Viravaidya

Mechai Viravaidy is a former politician and activitist in Thailand.
Title of keynote to be confirmed


Mechai was educated at Geelong Grammar School and at Trinity College at the University of Melbourne in Australia. In the mid-1960s he returned to Thailand and started to work in family planning, emphasizing the use of condoms. In 1973 he left the civil service and founded a non-profit service organization, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), to continue his efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor.

Mechai served as Deputy Minister of Industry from 1985 to 1986, followed by his term as a senator from 1987 to 1991. When AIDS become increasingly recognized as an issue within Thailand, he increased his efforts to promote sexual safety awareness. In 1991 Mechai was appointed to the post of Minister for Tourism, Information and AIDS. In 1995 he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia for "service to Australian-Thai relations and contributions to the world AIDS debate".

In 2004 Mechai again took office as a senator, and since 2007 he has continued to oversee rural development and health initiatives as the Chairman of the PDA, now the largest NGO in Thailand with 600 employees and 12,000 volunteers. On 29 May 2007, the PDA was awarded the 2007 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Gates Award and a one million dollar grant in recognition of its pioneering work in family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Mechai's work includes a strong focus on the need to support disadvantaged communities and children, particularly those in Thailand's rural regions. His passion for helping others strongly impacted NIST International School's mission and values during his tenures as the Chairman of the NIST International School Foundation from 1993 to 2002 and 2005 to 2009.

In 2008, Mechai founded the Mechai Pattana Bamboo School in 2009. The school occupies a unique place in the education world, charging its students no fees, but rather requiring them to commit to community service and environmental conservation efforts. This is bolstered by a curriculum focused on sustainability and social entrepreneurship, driven by experiential learning. Students play a major role in determining the curriculum and even in hiring teachers, making the school unique not only in Thailand, but also globally.

Nick Alchin

High School Principal United World College of South East Asia
Summary of the Conference


Nicholas Alchin is High School Principal of the United World College of South East Asia (East Campus) in Singapore, having previously taught at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Sevenoaks School, UK and International School of Geneva, Switzerland. Previously Vice Chair of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Examining Board, and Chief Assessor for IB Diploma Programme Theory of Knowledge, he writes and publishes widely on a range of topics relating to international education and is the author of a widely-acclaimed book on IB Diploma Theory of Knowledge.

M.L. Pariyada Diskul

Advisor at Centre for Education Psychology, Foundation of Virtuous Youth
International Education and Engaging with Difference


M.L. Pariyada Diskul (Khun Parry) has experience over two decades in running one of the largest International Schools in Thailand, Bangkok Patana International School.
She was the founder and President of The International Schools Association of Thailand for two terms.She had served 6 years as an advisor on the Education, Religion and Culture Committee of the Senate. She was also a Board Member of the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA) for 3 years.

She now runs many non-profit organizations on Education.
Eg. Rak Kaew Foundation, Junior Achievement (Young Entrepreneurs) Thailand. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award support group. etc...