Recipe for school success
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Recipe for school success

A recent proposal to establish a department of secondary education as a means to improve education quality in Thailand is poorly thought-out.

While the outcome will be uncertain, one certainty is that the agency will waste financial resources and create bureaucratic redundancy. Meanwhile, the real causes of the problem go unaddressed.

Needless to say, the real problem in Thai education is not the absence of departments or administrative bodies. It is the ingrained inequality in society and culture that undermines the potential of younger generations.

Last week, the Srettha cabinet assigned the education minister, Office of the Civil Service Commission and Budget Bureau to conduct a 30-day study. It will be based on a recommendation by a Senate committee on education affairs for a Department of Secondary Education. This initiative is aimed at raising the quality of education to a level suitable for higher education or advanced vocational skills development.

While the proposal sounds good, the truth is the Education Ministry already gets the lion's share of budget. Despite that, Thailand has failed miserably to develop its education quality. The country has flunked international rankings such as the PISA. The question arises, why aren't the substantial funds going into education turning into better outcomes?

There are many answers. Among them are the inefficiency and complexity of the existing educational bureaucracy. Does Thailand need another bureaucratic body?

But the elephant in the room is social and economic inequality. Students from different socio-economic backgrounds have vastly different educational experiences and outcomes. Addressing this inequality should be the foremost priority, rather than creating new administrative bodies that add to the bureaucratic maze.

Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun said recently urgent action from the government was needed to address education inequality and restore hope among Thailand's younger generation.

He emphasised that inequality in education leads to unequal access to opportunities. This issue is exacerbated by the selfishness of politicians, social inequality more generally, and the degradation of democracy, causing the younger generation to lose hope in their country's future.

Education organisations should strive to be agile and capable, focusing on direct impacts rather than forever expanding administrative structures.

Improving the quality of teaching is paramount. Teacher training programmes should be enhanced to ensure educators are well-equipped to meet the diverse needs of their students. Investing in professional development for teachers can lead to more effective teaching strategies and better student outcomes.

Furthermore, resources should be allocated to ensure that all schools, regardless of their location or the socio-economic status of their students, have access to quality materials, facilities, and support. This would help level the playing field and provide all students with a fair chance to succeed.

A new department of secondary education is not the right approach. It is essential to focus on strategies that directly affect teaching and learning quality. Streamlining the existing bureaucracy, addressing educational inequality, and prioritising teacher quality are steps that will lead to meaningful and lasting improvements in the education system.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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