Education in classrooms, not online, comes first: Minister

Education in classrooms, not online, comes first: Minister

A staff member of Or-ngern School in Sai Mai district of Bangkok prepares for the reopening of classes halted by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A staff member of Or-ngern School in Sai Mai district of Bangkok prepares for the reopening of classes halted by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan has pledged to prioritise learning in the classroom even as he moves to add online lessons.

Speaking about the reopening of schools in July, Mr  Nataphol said all students can return to schools under strict health guidelines but both online and on-air classes would still be emphasised as a backup plan.

He said learning through digital equipment is crucial in the post-Covid-19 period, and the pandemic crisis has allowed schools to focus more on distance learning using digital equipment.

The minister said schools across the country have been informed on conducting online classes in the "new normal", which is mandatory to prevent a resurgence of the novel coronavirus.

“We can’t be sure about reducing cases to zero, but we can be confident about the safety measures taken by the health ministry”, he said.

“The backup plan is to make sure that if there is an outbreak, we know how to deal with it,” Mr  Nataphol said, adding that the content in televised educational programming will be improved.

Despite criticism of the distance-learning class trial in May, Mr Nataphol said it successfully enabled a large number of students to access classes through digital devices.

He admitted that digital devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets are suitable tools for post-Covid education, but since not everyone can afford them, the ministry has developed another solution -- TV broadcasting. 

The minister explained that the government was ready to allocate a proper budget to provide the necessary digital devices for all students, but the proposal was dropped over concerns about possible corruption.

“Every time we talk about distributing digital equipment to students, the same public concerns are raised,” he said.

The Education Ministry so far has set out four different scenarios for the post-pandemic classes: onsite (physical classes at schools), on-air (television), online, and on-demand.


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