The Education Ministry is to ask the cabinet to approve new learning guidelines and thus free up more time for activities that better promote students' learning.
Under the new guidelines, students in state-run schools will spend half their time studying in the classroom and the other half doing activities off campus learning things such as critical thinking and life skills.
"Our education system now focuses too much on rote learning and lecturing," said Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan. "Students have to spend most of their time at school listening to teachers in class. That needs to be changed, so they have more time to pick up other skills outside the classroom."
The Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) says primary school children in Thailand attend about 1,000 class hours a year, while the figure is 1,200 class hours for secondary students.
Mr Nataphol said he wanted to balance academic study and activities outside the classroom, although he added that the extracurricular activities would be designed to help improve students academically as well.
He has also ordered his ministry to renew and revamp the Basic Education Core Curriculum BE 2551 (AD 2008) for students to focus more on developing analytical skills and career goals.
The renewal of the core curriculum is expected to be completed by 2022 and from then on lessons about various career paths will be taught in nursery, primary and high schools, Mr Nataphol said, explaining that will help students integrate with the 21st century.
Apart from adjusting class hours and revamping the core curriculum, he said he also hoped to ease the burden on teachers by reducing unnecessary workloads next academic year, so they can spend more time with their students.
Two other priorities were to improve the teacher evaluation system and teachers' debt problems, he added. "Teachers play an important role in students' success, so we need to look after them," Mr Nataphol said.