IN THE FAST LANE
Recently, Chanarong Luckshaniyanavin, president of the Pasanusorn group of schools (Pasanusornbangkae School and Pasanu-sornbangkae Commercial School), suggested that technology and cutting-edge teaching methodologies will improve students' learning curves.
Technology helps learning
"I believe that Thai education can be accelerated," said Mr Chanarong.
He proposed that technology, such as e-learning systems, satellite learning programmes and online broadcasts, can be applied to speed up the learning process.
"When students start playing a new computer game, they willingly play it again and again, so as to master it. We need to figure out ways to make teaching and learning as interesting as playing a game," Mr Chanarong said. "This is where technology takes on greater importance."
It is crucial that the government and private sectors join hands to support applying learning technology in schools, said Mr Chanarong.
Next semester, the two Pasanusornbangkae schools will pioneer an e-learning system for English and mathematics that will be expanded to cover other subjects later. The school will also make use of ePals, a worldwide online learning social network, to widen its scope.
Methods of cram schools
The next way that Mr Chanarong suggested could help speed up the learning process is encouraging teachers to use the teaching techniques that are utilised by tutors in many cram schools.
Many students prefer to go to cram schools because most of the tutors at such schools usually employ cutting-edge teaching techniques that make lessons easy to understand, help students to focus on core information and make the material enjoyable.
"Good tutors should train school teachers," suggested Mr Chanarong, adding that the tutors should not fear that those teachers will turn out to be their competitors later on, as most, of not all, of the teacher trainees will not be as competent as they.
"We already have a tutor channel for children. We need to have the same thing for teachers, too," he said, adding that he plans to train a selected group of his teachers in pedagogies used by tutors.
In brief, he emphasized, school teachers have to be open-minded and willing to change their teaching style.
With regard to the teacher's part in the equation, he was also concerned that many teachers at government institutions allocate an excessive amount of time to conducting their personal research projects, which earn them a higher level of academic status, instead of in taking care of their students.
Challenges to face
As a result of today's challenging environment, competition among schools is getting fiercer. Many schools have improved their infrastructures and the standards of their learning and teaching equipment with the aim of boosting their enrolment rates. However, Mr Chanarong bemoaned, improvements to quality and academic excellence are still cause for great concern.
The challenges that schools face today include insufficient quality education practitioners, the influx of overseas entrepreneurs who invest in schools as a commercial business, and the imbalance between school supply and learner demand due to the shrinking birth rate.
Another factor is the economic downturn, which has prompted parents to transfer children from high-class institutions to lower-level institutions or to move them from private schools to government schools.