Enlist qualified school teachers
If Thai children are to receive the very best learning experience, the authorities must revamp child protection policies in the education system and ensure that all school faculty staff members are qualified to work with young students.
Physical punishment is not allowed in Thai schools, but claims of abuse by parents of children at the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek private school in Nonthaburi's Pak Kret district have prompted the public to think otherwise, prompting calls for accountability.
The whole issue came to light in the last week of September when several videos of an unqualified teacher assaulting students at the school surfaced on social media.
In some of the videos, she is seen pushing a girl to the floor and pulling her hair in the presence of other members of the school's faculty. Nobody intervened.
The teacher was identified as Ornuma "Khru Jum" Plodprong. She was later sacked after parents confronted the school over her behaviour. Police reports were filed, and the school said it would prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
Since then, Ms Ornuma has been charged with 10 counts of physical assault. Police officers said they would further investigate to see if she had violated the Government Teacher and Education Personnel Act.
However, that's not the end of the story. This week, Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek was hit with yet more claims of maltreatment. Parents of 38 Grade 2 students at the school filed a complaint with police, claiming their children had been abused by a music teacher.
One parent claimed the music teacher had no licence to teach and demanded his resignation while vowing to take the strongest action he could against the faculty staff member.
He said the school took barely any responsibility for the matter as it only offered free tutorial classes, ice cream and cartoons to make up for the scandal.
The school must account for its lack of oversight in preventing the abuse of children on its grounds. If it fails to do so, the school must be scrutinised by the authorities.
Yes, the school has expressed regret and said it would take responsibility. The school has fired Ms Ornuma and promised to take disciplinary action against the faculty staff members involved.
But are those actions and words enough? Apparently not. A group of Sarasas parents recently signed a petition urging the school's principal to improve childcare standards and install CCTV cameras throughout the premises.
During a seminar on school violence by the Children, Youth and Family Foundation and the Family Network Foundation, an NGO addressing the issue, one Sarasas parent said the school in Pak Kret district has to be closed if it fails to stop the abuse of students.
One Sarasas parent during the seminar said the school's executives claimed the parents only wanted money. If that inconsiderate notion was true, it went out the window when the man said parents just want the school to improve its standards and ensure the safety of the children it is supposed to be taking care of.
Sarasas is a large and famous schooling empire, with nearly 50 schools under its name operating across the country. It's regarded as one of the best and most expensive private schools in Thailand. Parents have a high expectation of the school's standards.
The school must heed the call, and the authorities must ensure it is answered by its principal. After all, a principal is the head of a school and so must surely have the proper knowledge on how to care for young children.
There have also been claims that many of the teachers the school employs are unqualified and uncertified. A number of language teachers are said to not possess the necessary documents suitable for teaching jobs. Some are said to be staying in the country on tourist visas.
These claims prompted Disakul Kasemsawas, secretary-general of the Teachers' Council of Thailand (TCT), to order the school's executives to hand over the licences of 400 educators for inspection.
The council is also preparing to file complaints against four kindergarten teachers at the school, including Ms Ornuma, a Filipino teacher and two others.
One important question is: why did the TCT, also known as Khurusapha, who is responsible for setting and monitoring professional teaching standards, allow this to happen for so long?
The scandalous case requires more than a knee-jerk reaction from the school and the teacher's council.
Sarasas must comply, and the authorities must pay close attention to this case because children deserve to be handled with care, especially within the kingdom's education system.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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