Education needs revamp

Education needs revamp

The abuse of kindergarten children at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School should not be allowed to end with penalties only for the local administration.

The violence, which appears more prevalent than earlier reported, and the attitudes of the personnel involved, indicate a wider failure not only at the organisational level but within our entire educational system.

The Education Ministry made the right move in setting up a panel to investigate all 42 schools in the Sarasas group and tighten regulations governing privately run schools.

The Office of Private Education Commission (Opec) also vowed to take legal action action against all personnel at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School, be they teachers or management, for child abuse.

But these measures are not enough.

Video clips taken from CCTV in the classroom show dreadful abuses of small children by teachers and teaching assistants -- people entrusted to care for them and to show them loving kindness at an early age.

The crimes must be dealt with severely, and across the board. Relevant authorities must spare no effort to look into the abuse and bring everyone involved to account no matter at what level.

It's heartbreaking to watch small children being pushed around and hit repeatedly. However, as more video clips have come out that showed similar incidents of violence against children and the fact that these abuses sometimes occurred while other teaching staff members were present but failed to intervene raises the serious question of whether the crimes were not just the fault of individuals.

Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School must be held accountable. It must explain how it screens its teaching staff, whether it has in place a culture that nurtures teaching spirit and if it provides enough support to allow the teachers and other staff to do their job well.

It's not enough for the school to simply say it has a rule that prevents teachers from caning pupils. It takes much more than that to thwart violence against children, let alone make a school a true learning place that grooms and cherishes children's development.

The latest abuses was particularly jarring because they involved small kindergarten pupils who were simply helpless against the violence. But the truth is the violence at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School is not an isolated incident.

Reports about caning, physical punishments that have left students seriously ill, even disabled, and other forms of harassment including forced haircuts have come out time and again from schools around the country.

It's possible that the violence against young children at the school in question is but the tip of our failed education iceberg.

If the school is seen as failing to ensure a safe and nurturing atmosphere for children, the Education Ministry, especially Opec, must take responsibility too.

The ministry receives the highest budget of more than 368 billion baht but the quality of education does not follow accordingly.

Since 2015, the country's education competitiveness has steadily dropped from 48th out of 61 countries assessed by the International Institute for Management Development to 56th out of 63 in 2019.

While it's imperative that the education authorities clean up the abuses at all Sarasas schools, its mission is wider. It's time for the ministry to own up to the decline in education quality in the country. It's high time for this well-paid agency to do its job.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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