Starting from the next academic year, students who enrol in teacher training courses will no longer automatically get teaching licences from the Teachers' Council of Thailand (TCT), but will instead have to pass a test set by its Professional Standards Committee.
The TCT board recently decided to scrap the automatic granting of licences to graduates from next year, thinking it would be better to test each graduate before deciding whether to give them a licence.
The Education Ministry also recently introduced a policy to cut the length of teacher-training courses nationwide from five to four years from next year, believing a shorter course is necessary to keep pace with a changing world.
This move is a reversal of the trend Thailand embraced in 2004, when the five-year teacher-training course was introduced in the hope of boosting teaching quality and enhancing the profession's prestige.
"It's time to make changes to keep pace with the changing world," Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said.
He insisted that shorter courses would not see a drop in quality.
"On the contrary, the quality will be better," he said.
According to Dr Udom, all graduates from the four-year teacher-training courses will be required to demonstrate a solid knowledge of English by achieving the B2 or Vantage level of proficiency (upper intermediate), based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
"Those who teach English must be categorised as proficient speakers [C1 category] -- people demonstrating effective operational proficiency or advanced knowledge of English," he said.
He added that "soft" skills would also receive stronger emphasis in the revised programmes.
Moreover, he said, students who enrol in teacher training courses from the next academic year, and who will graduate in 2023, will also be required to pass tests designed by the Professional Standards Committee before receiving teaching licences.
Ekachai Keesookpun, head of the Professional Standards Committee, said his agency is developing tests for the teaching licence.
Under the plan, students undertaking the new four-year teacher-training course will basic teaching skills and another for up-to-date knowledge or knowledge of changes in the world and the nation.
"Tests will only be required for those seeking a teaching licence from 2023, Mr Ekachai said.
"Students who complete the present five-year teacher-training course will not be required to take any tests, but they must be evaluated by their professors as to whether they deserve a teaching licence or not," he added.