School admissions bribes: DSI investigates

"No one can deny the problem exists," declares DSI official but creative & innovative ways to cover up any evidence make it very difficult to prove.


In photo above during protests by Bodindecha School students last month, they burned an effigy of the education minister outside government house over his "tea money" policy which favours rich families.

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DSI paints grim picture of school tea money problem

10/06/2012
Piyaporn Wongruang

Despite official denials, investigators believe bribes for student spots are continuing and will not end until the authorities adopt a new admission system.

Department of Special Investigation officers say the problem of pae chae - or tea money - will remain unresolved unless the school admission system is changed.

The practice of under-the-table payments to educators in return for school places was highlighted at the beginning of the school year when 50 hunger-striking students denied places at Bodindecha School accused officials of allocating places only after payments of tea money were made. School officials deny the claim.

While the problem at the school has since been resolved, the commander of the DSI's National Security Bureau, Pol Lt Col Phong-in Intrakhao, said no one could deny the tea money problem exists.

"We will not be able to tackle the problem if we pretend that we have no problem," said Pol Lt Col Phong-in.

Tea money means parents and students suffer, especially the poor ones who have a difficult enough time getting an education only to learn later that they have to pay money to compete for places.

Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) secretary-general Chinnapat Bhumirat defended the school admission system, saying it is designed to offer an opportunity to good students seeking a better education at top-tier schools.

He said good students should be given a chance to attend good schools anywhere, which is why schools under Obec supervision open up to 20% of places for outside students.

Mr Chinnapat said there were no irregularities in the Bodindecha case, and Obec had not learned of any other tea money cases at its schools

"If you have concrete evidence, you can show it to us. Don't just make an accusation against schools," said Mr Chinnapat, adding Obec has not ruled out some changes in the school admission system next year.

Pol Lt Col Phong-in said the demand for tea money was spurred by competition for places at prestigious schools.

Under the admission system, schools accept students for Mathayom 4 (Year 10) in two lots.

Up to 80% of the seats are given to students at the school continuing from Mathayom 3, while 20% of places are opened up to outside students who must sit an exam.

Some schools have been known to expand student numbers beyond the class limits of 40-50, while others have added classrooms to accept more students.

Pol Lt Col Phong-in said tea money can be disguised. Donations to schools or their foundations and payments to support school development through projects proposed via the Basic Education Commission require deposits to be made in banks and receipts issued. But payments between parents and schools are virtually impossible to police.

However, some parents may demand receipts for such payments, allowing investigators to sometimes track the money.

"The rules are quite extensive but they are often manipulated," said Pol Lt Col Phong-in.

Another DSI investigator said an inquiry conducted a few years ago revealed parents were asked to meet members of a school foundation to discuss how to secure a place for their child.

In some cases, incorrect receipts were issued for donations, carrying the name of the teacher instead of the school or foundation, which is a breach of guidelines.

In another case, the DSI detected the transfer of three million baht to a teacher's bank account with no valid reason for the transaction.

Often there was no paper evidence of requests for payments as they were written on the palm of the hand to indicate to the parents and student the amount required.

However, the DSI source said the payment of a minimum amount was no guarantee of a place and further payments were sometimes requested. A typical request was for between 20,000 baht and 100,000 baht.

DSI investigators found that at least five schools in Bangkok might have been involved with tea money. They submitted the cases to the National Anti-Corruption Commission but have had no response.

(Source: Bangkok Post, DSI paints grim picture of school tea money problem, Despite official denials, investigators believe bribes for student spots are continuing and will not end until the authorities adopt a new admission system, 10/06/2012, Piyaporn Wongruang, link

School Tea Money Vocabulary

bribes - money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal สินบน
bribes for student spots

tea money - Same as "bribe" 
under-the-table payments - Same as "bribe"

grim - without hope, depressing, and difficult to accept; unpleasant and making you feel upset and worried ที่โหดร้าย
paints grim picture of - describes a grim situation (depressing, without hope, making you feel upset...)

DSI paints grim picture of school tea money problem

admission - permission to enter a place การเข้าชม การเข้างาน  
school admission - when a child is chosen by a school to study at the school

school admission system
admission system

a school place - one student studying at a school; opportunity to study at a school 
allocating places - giving places to students; giving students the opportunity to study at a school

secure - get or achieve something that is difficult to get ได้มาซึ่ง ได้รับ, ทำให้ได้ผล
secure a place for their child

places are opened up

official - approved by the government or some authority ที่เป็นทางการ
official denials

denied (verb) - said it is not true
denied places
denial (noun)

investigator - a person such as police officer trying to discover the truth about a situation or find the person who committed a crime

authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ) ผู้มีอำนาจของรัฐ
authorities adopt a new admission system

adopt
- to accept or to start using something new นำมาใช้
adopt a new admission system

Despite official denials, investigators believe bribes for student spots are continuing and will not end until the authorities adopt a new admission system.

officers - high ranking managers in an organization

Department of Special Investigation officers

resolve problem (verb phrase) - solve a problem
resolved problem
(noun phrase) - a solved problem

unresolved problem (noun phrase) - a problem not yet solved
problem remains unresolved
the problem will remain unresolved unless ...


Department of Special Investigation officers say the problem of pae chae - or tea money - will remain unresolved unless the school admission system is changed.

practice - a way of doing something; something that people do regularly การปฏิบัติ

highlighted - emphasized, stressed; made something more noticeable ที่เน้นย้ำ

hunger striking - not eating as a protest (will only eat after they get what they are aasking for)

claim - saying something is true without proving it yet
deny the claim

resolve problem - solve problem
tackle problem - to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with and solve a problem  แก้ปัญหา จัดการกับปัญหา

commander - a police officer of high rank ผู้บังคับบัญชา

pretend
- to behave as if something is true when you know that it is not, especially in order to deceive people or as a game แกล้งทำว่าเป็นจริง
suffer - to experience physical or mental pain

opportunity
- a situation when it is possible to do something that you want to do (See glossary)

tier -
level
top-tier -
the top or highest level
top-tier schools -
the top schools, the highest level of quality in schools

The practice of under-the-table payments to educators in return for school places was highlighted at the beginning of the school year when 50 hunger-striking students denied places at Bodindecha School accused officials of allocating places only after payments of tea money were made. School officials deny the claim. While the problem at the school has since been resolved, the commander of the DSI's National Security Bureau, Pol Lt Col Phong-in Intrakhao, said no one could deny the tea money problem exists. "We will not be able to tackle the problem if we pretend that we have no problem," said Pol Lt Col Phong-in. Tea money means parents and students suffer, especially the poor ones who have a difficult enough time getting an education only to learn later that they have to pay money to compete for places. Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) secretary-general Chinnapat Bhumirat defended the school admission system, saying it is designed to offer an opportunity to good students seeking a better education at top-tier schools.

given a chance to - given an opportunity (can do something they want to do)

supervision - manamgement; the process of making sure that something is being done properly การควบคุมดูแล การตรวจตรา
under Obec supervision

irregularities
- things that are not normal and therefore suspicious (might indicate problem or wrong-doing) ความไม่สงบ

evidence - facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not something is true or if someone has committed a crime หลักฐาน หลักฐานประกอบการไต่สวนคดี หรือพิจารณาคดี

concrete
- based on facts, not on ideas or guesses
concrete evidence - things you can really see, that show that something is true

accusation - say that someone did something wrong without actually proving it

rule out -
believe that something is not true
has not ruled out -
believe that something could still be true or happen (even though not likely)

He said good students should be given a chance to attend good schools anywhere, which is why schools under Obec supervision open up to 20% of places for outside students. Mr Chinnapat said there were no irregularities in the Bodindecha case, and Obec had not learned of any other tea money cases at its schools. "If you have concrete evidence, you can show it to us. Don't just make an accusation against schools," said Mr Chinnapat, adding Obec has not ruled out some changes in the school admission system next year.

demand - the need and desire to buy goods and services by households and businesses

spurred - caused ก่อให้เกิด
demand spurred by competition - people want it because it helps them compete (in life for admission to best universities, jobs at best companies, marriage with best wives who are members of the best families, .... etc)

prestigious - famous, admired and respected by people ที่มีชื่อเสียง ที่ได้รับความนับถือ
prestigious schools

expand - to become larger ขายตัวออกไป
expand student numbers

Pol Lt Col Phong-in said the demand for tea money was spurred by competition for places at prestigious schools. Under the admission system, schools accept students for Mathayom 4 (Year 10) in two lots.  Up to 80% of the seats are given to students at the school continuing from Mathayom 3, while 20% of places are opened up to outside students who must sit an exam. Some schools have been known to expand student numbers beyond the class limits of 40-50, while others have added classrooms to accept more students.

disguised - identity is hidden, don't know who or what it really is
tea money can be disguised

foundations

support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
development - the gradual growth and formation of something
support school development

proposed - suggested (but not yet chosen or decided upon)

projects proposed via the Basic Education Commission

receipts - money received
issued - made available ออกใหม่
receipts issued

virtually - almost เกือบจะ  แทบจะ
virtually impossible - almost impossible to do (very difficult)
virtually
impossible to police  

Pol Lt Col Phong-in said tea money can be disguised. Donations to schools or their foundations and payments to support school development through projects proposed via the Basic Education Commission require deposits to be made in banks and receipts issued. But payments between parents and schools are virtually impossible to police.

track the money
extensive - includes a wide variety ที่มีมากมาย
manipulated - controlled by someone for their own benefit and gain

However, some parents may demand receipts for such payments, allowing investigators to sometimes track the money. "The rules are quite extensive but they are often manipulated," said Pol Lt Col Phong-in.

investigator - someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something, especially a crime or accident ตำรวจฝ่ายสอบสวนคดีอาชญากรรม
DSI investigator

inquiry - asking questions or investigating to get information การสอบถาม การไต่สวน
conduct inquiry

an inquiry conducted a few years ago

revealed - made known or showed something that was surprising or that was previously secret เปิดเผย

an inquiry revealed ...

foundation - an organisation that provides money for something มูลนิธิ
school foundation

donations - money given by people to help some project or organisation financially

incorrect receipts issued for donations

breach - a failure to follow a law or rule การละเมิดกฎหมาย ละเมิดกฎหมาย
guidelines
- rules to help guide action แนวทาง นโยบาย

a breach of guidelines - not follow the rules that usually guide actions

In some cases, incorrect receipts were issued for donations, carrying the name of the teacher instead of the school or foundation, which is a breach of guidelines. Another DSI investigator said an inquiry conducted a few years ago revealed parents were asked to meet members of a school foundation to discuss how to secure a place for their child. In some cases, incorrect receipts were issued for donations, carrying the name of the teacher instead of the school or foundation, which is a breach of guidelines.

transfer - 1. to official arrange for someone else to be the owner of something โอน; 2. to move someone or something from one place, vehicle, person or group to another ย้าย

money transfer (noun) - โอนเงิน
transfer money
(verb) - send money to another person or organization

valid - 1. reasonable and generally accepted ที่มีเหตุผลพอ 2. legally accepted ชอบด้วยกฎหมาย

reason - an explanation of an event, why an event happened เหตุ ; เหตุผล ; สาเหตุ
transaction - a business dealing การติดต่อทางธุรกิจ

bank account - the place in a bank where your money is kept (an accounting record with an number in a computer along with rights in a contract)

detected - noticed, discovered or found out จับได้ พบได้
detected the transfer of three million baht to a teacher's bank account

paper evidence of requests for payments
written on the palm of the hand

In another case, the DSI detected the transfer of three million baht to a teacher's bank account with no valid reason for the transaction. Often there was no paper evidence of requests for payments as they were written on the palm of the hand to indicate to the parents and student the amount required.

source - someone who gives information to the media แหล่งข่าว

guarantee
- a promise that something will be done or will happen for sure คำรับรอง, การประกัน (See glossary)
no guarantee of - something may happen, but not for sure

submitted - formally given to someone so that they can make a decision about it ยื่น ยื่นเอกสารเพื่อการพิจารณา

However, the DSI source said the payment of a minimum amount was no guarantee of a place and further payments were sometimes requested. A typical request was for between 20,000 baht and 100,000 baht. DSI investigators found that at least five schools in Bangkok might have been involved with tea money. They submitted the cases to the National Anti-Corruption Commission but have had no response.

striking - very noticeable, different, and unusual เด่นชัด

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columnist
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