Nathapol to tackle quality gap and digitization

Nathapol to tackle quality gap and digitization

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan pledges to narrow the quality gap between schools in urban and rural areas. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan pledges to narrow the quality gap between schools in urban and rural areas. (Bangkok Post file photo)

On his first day in office, the newly-appointed education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan pledged to narrow the quality gap between schools in urban and rural areas, ease the burden of teachers and equip students with skills needed in the 21st century.

Mr Nataphol said there are three key educational issues that he urgently wants to address. The first one is the disparity between students in elite schools and those in underprivileged schools — a disparity which is reflected in their academic performance. 

“We have to admit that inequality is still a problem in Thai education. Many schools in rural areas still struggle with problems such as a lack of funding, lack of resources, qualified and experienced teachers, books and modern education technologies. The ministry needs to ensure that quality education will be equally provided to all students,” he said.

Mr Nataphol said the second issue he wants to address is the quality of the 400,000 teachers nationwide and their working conditions. 

“Teachers are the most important factor in student success, therefore we need to look after them and ensure that they have all of the necessary resources,” he said.

Mr Nataphol said he aims to ease the burden of teachers by reducing unnecessary workloads, adding that the problem of teacher debt will also be addressed.

He added that the last urgent issue is figuring out how to equip Thai students with the 21st century skills and competence that they need to be successful in a rapidly globalising world.

“As the world is rapidly moving toward a digital era, schools need to nurture the essential skills of the 21st century such as coding, Stem and language skills in their students,” he said.

Deputy Education Minister Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich said the ministry plans to make coding classes mandatory for all students, starting from the kindergarten to elementary levels.

“In the long run, students should be mandated to study coding for their entire educational experience. However, at the beginning phase we will start with just a few schools because not all schools are ready to integrate the subject into their classrooms,” said Ms Khunying.

Another deputy education minister, Kanokwan Vilawan, said her first priority is to promote informal and vocational education in order to improve the poor image of technical studies among Thai youth.

The three ministers held a meeting with senior education officials and executives to set their policy direction.

After the meeting, Mr Nataphol revealed that he will supervise the Office of the Basic Education Commission and the Office of the Vocational Education Commission himself, while Ms Kanokwan will oversee the Office of the Private Education Commission and the Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education.

The Office of the Education Council, the National Institute of Educational Testing Service and the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment will be under the responsibility of Ms Khunying.

“Although all ministers at the Education Ministry came from different political parties, we can work together in harmony. Each of us will work inside our area of expertise,” Mr Nataphol said.

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