Government rethinks softer teacher entry rules
Outcry spurs exam criteria change
The Education Ministry has bowed to pressure from academics who have criticised its policy to allow graduates who do not hold a degree in education to enter the teacher recruitment process.
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said Tuesday the controversial policy would be adjusted by reducing the number of subjects in which graduates without a degree in education are eligible to apply for teaching positions.
Currently these graduates are allowed to enter the teacher recruitment process in 61 subjects, but the number would be cut down to 25.
However, those who do not hold a degree in education would be allowed to sit for the recruitment exams in those 25 subjects only this year.
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"Of the 61 subjects, 36 would be reserved only for graduates in education, while graduates in other fields would be allowed to teach eight subjects for which there is a serious shortage of teachers and 17 other subjects in which no one passed the recruitment exam last year," Dr Teerakiat said.
The eight subjects with teacher shortages are science, general science, chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, English and German.
The 17 subjects in which all examinees failed last year are physical therapy, occupational therapy, financial accounting, painting, clinical psychology, folk music, performing arts (khon dancing), Burmese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Malay, economics, audio visual education, curriculum and instruction, electronics industry, building and construction, and automotive technology.
"At the end, all parties are expected to find a middle ground," Dr Teerakiat revealed after the meeting with the Education Deans Council of Thailand (EDCT). The EDCT's president Prapansiri Susoarat said she was happy with the decision after a meeting with the education minister.
Ms Prapansiri also denied rumours the EDCT is seeking 50,000 signatures on a petition to oust Dr Teerakiat. She said EDCT members would convene at Srinakharinwirot University on April 1 to discuss how to improve teaching standards in Thailand. Previously, only graduates with a degree in education -- who automatically receive a teaching licence known as a "teacher's ticket" from the Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT) -- were eligible to sit for the teacher recruitment exam.
Dr Teerakiat said the new procedure initiated last week is aimed at solving the shortage of teachers as many public schools are having a hard time finding specialist teachers in some fields. According to the plan, those who pass the exam would be allowed to temporarily teach in schools for a period of two years and they are required to attend necessary training programmes to acquire a permanent teaching licence.
Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha urged critics to take into account that the country is now facing serious teacher shortages in some subjects, and that those with in-depth knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, are the future of the country.
"We need to prepare our students in a way that allows them to be part of a qualified workforce in an era of innovation, or they may lose their jobs to foreigners," he said. "That is why we need experts to teach these subjects."