Buoyed by the success of intensive classes for students gifted in science and maths at Mahidol Wittayanusorn School in Nakhon Pathom, the Office of the Basic Education Commission plans to duplicate the programme around the country.
It will be introduced to 12 branches of Princess Chulabhorn's College, Obec deputy secretary-general Somkiat Chobphol said yesterday. While the schools already emphasise the teaching of science and maths, the subjects were unpopular because of problems with management, curriculum and budget, Mr Somkiat said.
Each school under the Princess Chulabhorn's College network now has two special classes set aside offering intensive study to students in Mathayom 4 and 5 who excel in science and maths. Under the new programme, the special classes will be expanded to all Mathayom levels, Mr Somkiat said.
The commission will use the same selection process as Mahidol Wittayanusorn to place students in the special classes.
They will take examinations to qualify and those chosen will receive an annual scholarship of 80,000 baht and exhaustive training in maths, physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, and astronomy with "systematic practise through research projects", Mr Somkiat said.
"We want to upgrade the 12 branches of Princess Chulabhorn's College to the same level as Mahidol Wittayanusorn School," Mr Somkiat said.
Mahidol Wittayanusorn was the first school in the country to focus solely on science and maths.
Launched in 1991, the school has already earned a stellar reputation as its students have won medals in many international competitions in the sciences, physics and computer science.
Mr Somkiat said Mahidol Wittayanusorn welcomed the move as prospective students would have options beyond trying to gain a spot at the school which can only admit 240 students each year.
In addition to upgrading the Princess Chulabhorn's College schools, the commission also plans 100 special classes for 6,000 students in other schools in the provinces in the new academic year.
Last year, the agency started 95 intensive classes in maths and science for nearly 3,000 students at schools in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Mukdahan, Chon Buri and Pathum Thani.
Students have been competing for seats at the schools since the classes were added, Mr Somkiat said.