Study finds students' ICT skills lacking
Thai kids rank 13th out of 14 countries
Thai students’ computer and information literacy skills are far behind those in other countries, ranking 13th among students from 14 countries taking part in an International Computer Information Literacy Study (ICILS).
Scoring 373 points compared to the average score of 500, the result shows many Thai students are unprepared to face 21st-century technological challenges, according to the Institute for Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST).
A lack of familiarity with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is likely to be the main cause of students’ low scores, said Chaiwuti Lertwanasiriwan, Learning Innovation Department Director at the IPST.
Thailand’s test group comprised 3,646 Grade 8 students from 198 schools in the country.
The test questions dealt with real life concerns, such as online security or recognising scam emails. Students were asked to create and modify original content using software and were required to use critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Students with no access to a computer at home (28% of the test group) scored 316 points on average, while those whose homes had three computers or more (23% of the test group) gained 431 points.
In the other countries surveyed, only 6% of pupils had no computer access.
Students from the Czech Republic ranked first in the study with a score of 553, followed by Australia (542), Poland (537), Norway (537), South Korea (536), Germany (523), Slovakia (517), Russia (516), Croatia (512), Slovenia (511), Lithuania (494), Chile (487), Thailand (373) and Turkey (361).
The study found that students from wealthier backgrounds were more likely to have higher standards of computer literacy.
Mr Chaiwuti explained that Thailand’s low score in the study was because 61% of children in the test group were from low-income backgrounds and the country's rich and poor divide is wider than the other countries surveyed.
These factors can be rectified if schools invest in more equipment, Mr Chaiwuti added.
Small schools with only one computer are hampered in comparison with larger schools, as are those in rural areas in contrast to cities.
In some cases, students from the city scored 100 points higher than their rural counterparts.
These scores are not particularly worrying, Mr Chaiwuti said, because they correspond with the level of Thailand’s development.
“We were ranked behind European countries, but we have no idea where we stand compared with Asean member states,” he said.
Countries with low GDP tend to achieve lower scores.
The study rated Thailand’s ICT Development Index as the lowest of all 14 countries, which could affect the country’s competitiveness in the future, the Learning Innovation Department director warned.
He suggested school curricula be amended to include ICT in all subjects in order to help students improve their skills.
ICT is to be used as a tool to improve other learning, Mr Chaiwuti said, saying that a computer is not an end in itself.
“At the moment, schools have one or two hours of ICT class per week, during which students are taught how to use software. But they don’t learn how to deal with the problems one encounters online,” he said.
The results of the study also called for training courses and support for teachers, the IPST director said.
He said 8% of Thai teachers surveyed said they had never used a computer, compared with 5% in other countries, and only 46% said they felt confident enough to teach students how to use word processors or send emails with attachments.