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Healthy, wealthy and wise

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Everyone wants to be healthy. You only have to look at the range of skincare products advertised on television to see this. However, could the same be said for Thailand's ailing education sector?

Four years ago, the then director of the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assurance (Onesqa), Dr Somwung Pitiyanuwat, revealed to our very own "Education" editor on Oct 31, 2006, that 30,000 out of the 40,000 schools assessed (including schools of higher education) were in a qualitative coma. He cited a lack of creative thinking and the absence of a thirst for knowledge. There was also the additional charge that schools did not have the ability to conduct research.

You only have to look at Thailand's rural schools to see that there are many that still require urgent attention.

All is not lost as there is evidence that more and more local area education offices as well as school directors have taken the initiative and launched innovative plans to try to improve the lot of the schools under their care. In my opinion, it takes a lot of courage to try something new within Thailand's education system, especially when you consider how the stigma of failure is viewed culturally by Thais.


News that our beleaguered government teachers are going to be paid salaries in line with those of legal and medical professionals in government service is very welcome indeed. The Ministry of Education wants the pay rises to come into effect before April so that teachers can maximise their financial potential ahead of receiving the 5-percent salary increase that has been mooted to be awarded to the entire public sector in April next year.

Teachers have not had an increase in their salaries since 2004; now they are in line for an approximate 13-percent increase, which should be well received by teachers across the country.

Having done the maths, if the 8-percent pay rise amounts to between 2,000 and 3,000 baht a month as reported in the Bangkok Post on Sept 22, then 432,942 teachers will be earning 27,000 to 40,500 baht a month. This is considerably more than the 19,020-baht-a-month salary (plus housing allowance) that I am receiving from my government university and considerably less than the new maximum pay ceiling of 66,480 baht for professionals that senior teachers hope to receive before April.

And wise

A further way to increase the salaries of teachers and to improve their skills is to promote them through the Khor.Sor. levels 1 to 5. Unfortunately, there have only been two promotions to Khor.Sor. 5 since 2004, which returns us neatly to Dr Somwung's original observation that there is not enough research being conducted by our teachers.

In my opinion, if these current pay rises go through and teachers are in line with their fellow professionals, then they should be encouraged by the government to conduct relevant research in order to move our education industry forward as well as to receive the financial reward that comes with it. This way, teachers can be healthy, wealthy and wise.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of Mr Steve Graham, who 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, you may send your comments to 'In My Opinion' at


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