In My OPINION
It is not just academics and administrators who are speaking out. It appears that more and more members of society have decided that it's time for improvements in our education system to be significant and more importantly effective.
Teachers will have to speak up if they want to be heard. STEVE GRAHAM
Thailand vs outside world
Whether people like it or not, Thailand is part of the global economy and, as such, has an important part to play, or it will find itself left behind when it is no longer competitive. The article by Dr Arthit Ourairat says that Thailand's education system is based on an attempt to remember the content of textbooks and take part in the competition for grades and diplomas.
Christopher Anyadubalu, a Nigerian lecturer at Dusit Thani International College, commented on the original article and explained that "it is only when theory and practice are genuinely integrated in the learning process that students can effectively utilise knowledge for the common good and become creative, innovative, independent and goal orientated".
These views were further reinforced by the new director of Unesco's Asia Pacific Region Bureau for Education in Bangkok, Gwang-Jo Kim. He says participation in education is not enough. "Education should be a process that empowers individuals to develop confidence and the ability to apply knowledge and skills in diverse circumstances and to participate in a range of social, cultural, economic and political activities."
Some members of our society continue to think they are above reproach. Whether it is in the procurement of course books or the distribution of school milk, there are people among us who have no problem with making money off the backs of our students and schools illegally.
It is also worrying that teachers, managers and administrators apply the kreng jai principle in matters concerning education, countering any positive moves by individuals to improve the education dilemmas they may be facing at their place of work. In my opinion, it is going to be very difficult to improve our education system if kreng jai continues in this way.
Dissatisfaction with our system
Ask any teacher if they are satisfied with their job and working conditions and they will tell you in no uncertain terms the problems they face on a daily basis. Of course, it is human nature to complain, especially in my culture, coming as I do from the West. However, I wonder, if there were to be an inspection by members of the government, whether the same complaints would be discussed in such a candid way.
The Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (Onesqa) leads the way in providing assistance and feedback to all the establishments that it inspects. Again, the lack of internal quality assurance in our education institutions can't be used as an excuse for failed standards. This omission of a vital component in quality control needs to be addressed quickly in order to align the daily routine of our schools and universities with the proven reporting processes for Onesqa.
Our local communities are also having their say by opening their own schools. The number of Thai-Chinese schools and education foundations with charitable status in my province demonstrates the point in question. It is apparent that some in our community are not happy with the existing situation and are planning to do something about it.
What do you say?
Steve Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. If you would like to discuss matters related to this article, send your comments to 'In My Opinion' at firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the author
- Writer: Steve Graham