Pathom 1 entrance tests axed over stress concerns
Entrance exams for enrolment in primary schools under the supervision of the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) will be banned from the start of the 2021 academic year.
Obec chairman Ekkachai Kisukphan said the commission has agreed to ban admission tests for Pathom 1 at its schools over concerns that the stress caused can affect child development.
Interviews with parents and draws will be used to select the six- and seven-year-olds instead, he said.
"Parents will take part in a draw, not their children. Specialists say exams can cause stress and affect children emotionally and socially. We have to take this aspect into consideration, he said.
He admitted entrance exams for some schools which offer the English Programme and Intensive English Programme have forced parents to send their children to tutorial classes.
Mr Ekkachai said Obec has also agreed to cap the class sizes in secondary schools to 40 for the 2021 academic year and then 35 the following year.
This is based on an expected lower number of school enrolments due to declining birth rates, he said, adding that small classes will allow teachers an opportunity to devote more time to each student.
However, he said Obec has decided to allow schools to admit students for special reasons even though the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC) suggested such exceptions be scrapped to prevent bribery.
According to Mr Ekkachai, those accepted for special reasons are students of donors of school land, students from underprivileged families, students whose parents made sacrifices for victims of disasters and children of parents of teachers or school personnel.
He said the commission will forward its decisions to the education minister for approval before formal guidelines are issued.
Mathurada Suwanpho, director of the Rajanukul Institute, has welcomed the ban on entrance exams for Pathom 1 students, saying early competition is detrimental to child development.
She said play is a key activity for kindergarten children and studying for exams will deprive them of a proper learning process in line with their age.
"I agree with Obec and support the ban. They can start with schools under their supervision, so other schools will follow suit. If they can do it, it will reduce the burden for parents and lower stress and anxiety for children," she said.
Dr Mathurada said some of her patients are kindergarten children who have become aggressive or withdrawn.
She believes schooling is only one part of development and children need to learn life skills which come from social interactions.
Dr Mathurada also said parents should also support their children in their interests while offering help in areas they find more difficult.
"Parental support is the key to children's success," she said.