The Education Ministry's controversial school van purchase scheme requires a thorough review, newly-appointed Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng says.
At the budget bill debate for the 2014 fiscal year, the ministry proposed the purchase of 1,000 vans at a cost of 1.23 billion baht. The 12-seater vans would accommodate students from small schools who were transferred to study at larger ones under the ministry's school merger policy.
Mr Chaturon said that as chairman of a budget-screening subcommittee, he was previously told the vans would be purchased to serve students from merged small schools. However, he later found out some would also be provided to provincial educational zones.
"As the chairman of the budget-screening subcommittee, I asked the Office of the Basic Education Commission [Obec] to reconsider the van purchase scheme. Now as the education minister, I ask it to reconsider the scheme again," he said, after a meeting with ministerial authorities.
"It [Obec] has to reconsider the necessity of the van purchases, methods to manage small schools rather than having them merged or closed, and which provincial educational zones still want to use the vans," he said. "It must reconsider by looking at the plans again from the beginning, not just reducing the number of vans to be purchased."
Obec has asked permission to submit its revised plan to the ministry next Monday before submitting it to the Bureau of Budget for further consideration.
Mr Chaturon said the ministry's budget amendment should have been submitted to the bureau on Friday, but the minister will ask for a postponement due to the cabinet reshuffle.
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- Writer: Lamphai Intathep