Princess eyes schools plan
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has expressed concerns about a small school merger project that is expected to affect at least 10,000 schools nationwide, Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan says.
Gen Dapong said the Princess is aware of the scheme to merge small schools and has conveyed her concerns. The scheme is to be implemented by the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec).
Gen Dapong said the policy to merge small schools has a number of challenges including consent from local communities which will be adversely affected if their schools are merged with others.
However, he said it is fortunate the scheme is largely welcomed by local communities.
The minister said Obec has set aside a budget of 500 million baht to improve larger schools which would accommodate students from small schools. These large schools will be strengthened in terms of education quality and resources to help attract the students, he added.
He also gave assurances the directors of small schools slated to be merged will not be made redundant.
"If there are vacant seats left by retirees, they will get the jobs. They are eligible for their old payments and benefits," he added.
Obec dusted off the scheme in June after it was put on hold for several years.
The scheme was proposed out of concern that small schools lacked educational resources and teachers, resulting in poor educational quality. It was considered students would be better off if they could study at larger schools nearby.
Gen Dapong said 286 small schools would be merged in the second term of this academic year. It is not clear if some of the smaller schools will eventually be closed.