The new education minister, Phongthep Thepkanchana, is right to be unhappy with our country's poor educational performance compared with international standards. He is also right to take a serious look at the country's curriculum. But he is definitely wrong if he believes overhauling the curriculum alone will improve the performance of students.
Like many policy makers, Mr Phongthep believes that for Thailand to benefit from economic globalisation, Thai students must perform better academically. A few years ago, the Programme for International Student Assessment showed that Thai students' performances in maths, reading, and scientific literacy were well below the international average. This year, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement released the result of its latest assessment for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which rates Thai students' overall skills in mathematics and science as "poor".
This is despite the fact that classroom hours of Thai students are among the highest in the world, according to Unesco. The budget for the Education Ministry, at 20% of the national outlay, is also higher than other sectors.
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