In My OPINION
With such a large turnover expected, it is important to make sure that we have the right balance between quality and quantity, as well as teachers and academics if we are to emerge from this transitional period with our education system intact.
All children, from whatever background, should have access to the best teachers possible, starting from the first grade. CHANNARONG RACHBUANOY
Not just Thailand's problem
For many years, educational commentators and academics in the UK have repeatedly questioned the standards that are being set as well as the achievements of the students taking the national examinations at all levels of education. Recent reports detail plans by the opposition Conservative party to make teaching "brazenly elitist".
We are informed that this will be achieved by improving the quality of graduates entering the profession in England. The idea is to give financial help to those who obtain at least a second-class degree, to pay off the student loans of those with the highest grades in maths and science, and to recruit the best from other professions.
These are not new ideas, and the governing Labour party has said as much with an election looming. However, the idea of the teaching profession being "brazenly elitist" seems like a mixed blessing, especially where Thailand is concerned. What worries me is that we would be in danger of having an elitist group of individuals concerned with academia and then we would have the rest.
In my opinion, "the rest" covers the vast majority of teachers who deserve to be in the forefront of reform. If there is going to be nearly a 50-percent teacher turnaround over the next 10 years, these teachers need to be replaced with better-trained and more-experienced teachers. Otherwise, we will end up back where we started.
Back to basics
I have been accused over the years of focusing only on basic education. Readers have written to me stating that there is more to education than life at the chalk face. However, I believe that if we don't get the basics right, our education sector will never move forward in the right direction.
Academia has its place and serves an important role in the advancement of the education system in Thailand. I am of the opinion that unless our teachers can use the research that is being published in a practical way to improve their teaching and the learning of our children, then the research being conducted proves redundant.
I would like to suggest that if we are to make our teachers "brazenly elitist" and give them better skills to do the job, could we not have at least some of them teaching at the primary and secondary levels? I am thinking about Prathom 1 (Grade 1).
I teach a class of first-graders for only one hour a week and it is the most demanding of all my courses, which is saying something because I also have a postgraduate class.
My idea is that by focusing on the quality of our education from Year One and then building on it year after year, continuing the process through every stage of education, students would have a better opportunity when they join the workforce. This would allow "the rest" to continue their career in academia.
Steve Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. You may discuss matters related to this article, by sending your comments to 'In My Opinion' at firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the author
- Writer: Steve Graham