Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Education Ministry to add a moral and ethical sense test at all education levels and require students to write one page of Thai history.
These steps would ensure they are aware of their social duties and responsibilities, and respect the nation, religion and the monarchy, he said.
He was speaking Wednesday at an award ceremony for 781 students nationwide invited to Government House for their outstanding academic achievements.
Gen Prayut said he wanted to see a new generation of Thais grow up with a clear concept of moral and ethical responsibility, so they can build a stronger nation.
"By this year, the Education Ministry should add a moral and ethical sense test.
"For example, we might ask students what they should do if they see a person drop a wallet or jaywalk in front of them," Gen Prayut said.
"They need to be aware of their rights, duties, responsibilities and the importance of volunteering," he said.
He said Thai children can have the freedom to think as it will develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but they must also express their thoughts properly and productively.
Students should also understand the history of their own country well enough to explain it to foreigners if asked to do so.
"Our students must at least know how many kings we have had and some key events in the history of Thailand such as the story of Somdet Phra Naresuan the Great," he said.
The premier urged schools across the country to require their students to write a one-page essay about Thai history for extra marks. Gen Prayut has also ordered the ministry to revise textbooks to reflect innovations in the 21st century and the Thailand 4.0 development goal.
"One of the easiest ways to do it is to add knowledge taught in popular cram schools because you can see that these days our gifted students all study in tutorial schools," he said.
Gen Prayut suggested the ministry record the teaching methods of well-known private tutors on CDs and send them to schools nationwide, so teachers can learn from the best. "This will help reduce the big gap in learner achievement between regions as the OECD's Programme for Student Assessment and the Ordinary National Education Test have indicated the marks of schoolchildren in Bangkok are significantly higher than their peers in rural schools," Gen Prayut said.
The prime minister also urged students to develop skills in the English language which will help the country move forward with confidence. Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the ministry has set up a meeting to discuss the advice, which it hopes to implement next term.
Last week, Gen Prayut announced the motto for this year's National Children's Day: "Thai Children Strive to Study for National Stability".
Traditionally, Government House opens its doors to children and allows them to take turns sitting at the prime minister's desk on Children's Day, which falls on the second Saturday of every year. It will be held this coming Saturday.