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Take stock and act

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Looking at the sums of money that the government has allocated to spend on upgrades and research, they look more like a list of telephone numbers than the millions of baht they are supposed to represent.

Teachers like Ajarn Pranee Boonsaeng at Bantatprachanukoon School in Ban Phue district, Udon Thani province, are looking forward to the opportunity of welcoming academics from Thailand’s premier universities if they visit to conduct their research. STEVE GRAHAM

Just throwing money

A lot of money is being spent on education. However, I would question whether it is being spent prudently. The government should be applauded for initiatives like free education for the disabled, allowing all disabled people the opportunity to study to bachelor's degree level free of charge.

However, money has been thrown away on projects like the satellite-based learning project aimed at improving student's academic standards in small schools where a shortage of teachers has affected standards. Surely the shortage of teachers should be addressed with, well yes, you've guessed it, an influx of quality teachers to fill the vacancies.

Once again, ideas on paper do not work in practice due to poor implementation procedures. Not enough support has been given to the teachers at the chalk face (and the satellite receiver).

National research

Nine universities, the best in Thailand, will be receiving 3,000 million baht annually from 2010 to 2112 for national projects. I am all in favour of something like this effort as it gives Thailand's top universities the opportunity to conduct research on national problems that need attention.

May I suggest an investigation into why Thailand's mainstream education sector is in such a bad state? This would be a perfect opportunity for leading universities like Chulalongkorn University and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi to collect and analyse data to find out what can be done to improve the education for the majority of the Thai people in this country.

Of course, there are many other research projects that need the attention of Thailand's education elite. However, this is an ideal opportunity to put some of the proposed money to good use for the majority of the population.

It is possible that members of these university faculties could well stimulate the schools and districts they visit while conducting their data collection, which, in turn, could increase education standards just by motivating the teachers and students with whom they come into contact.

National and international

A sum of 500 million baht has been earmarked for upgrading 14 secondary schools to international institutes that teach all their subjects in English. Personally, I think this is a good idea. However, while the improvements to the higher end of our education are being well funded, are they being implemented correctly? Many schools that are conducting English Programmes (EP) and Mini English Programmes (MEP) are encountering specific problems that need to be addressed.

I am also dismayed that the national funding of education is conducted in a haphazard way, seemingly without aim or focus. Surely there is a need for an administrative strategy that spans a fixed number of years and which is not reliant on what political party is in power, similar to Onesqa, which is independent.

In my opinion, it is time for the implementation of a national education review using research conducted by Thailand's top universities as part of their newly-found windfall.

By visiting rural areas where the majority of our students study, Thailand's academics will have the opportunity to help put the nation back on track.

Steve Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. If you want to discuss matters related to this article, you may write to 'In My Opinion' at education@bangkokpost.co.th .


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