Unrest spurs curriculum overhaul in social studies

Unrest spurs curriculum overhaul in social studies

Demonstrators march on Sathon Road in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Demonstrators march on Sathon Road in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

In response to the mounting tension between anti-government protesters and pro-monarchy groups, the Ministry of Education is revamping the Basic Education Core Curriculum by placing more emphasis on key political events from 1932-1957 to promote an understanding among youth.

Permanent secretary for education, Supat Chumpathong, said the Basic Education Core Curriculum, which comprises eight subjects, will be updated and the syllabus for social sciences reworked to include information not included in the current curriculum.

In 1932, the Khana Ratsadon (Peoples' Party) launched a revolution that overthrew the government of King Rama VII, ending almost 800 years of absolute monarchy in what was then Siam. The 1932 revolt is a recurring theme in the ongoing anti-government protest, with one group of protesters calling itself Khana Ratsadon 2563 (the Thai equivalent of 2020). Mr Supat went on to say the new curriculum will not focus on rote memorisation. Instead, he said, it is aimed at promoting analytical thinking.

Experts from universities will be called in to help design the curriculum, he said, before adding the ministry plans to submit a draft to the education minister by the middle of December, so it could be used for the 2022 academic year.

Mr Supat also called on teaching academies to adjust their syllabuses in line with the new Basic Education Core Curriculum.

Meanwhile, deputy permanent secretary for education, Veera Khaengkasikarn, said a recent meeting of the ministry discussed a plan to press on with the ministry's project to teach the Sufficiency Economy philosophy in schools.

The ministry has been trying for over a decade to make Thai youth live by the Sufficiency Economy philosophy, he said.

A total of 27,520 academic institutions have been declared "Sufficiency Schools" -- 570 of which are learning centres whose main task is to promote and implement the Sufficiency Economy philosophy nationwide.

Director of the Sustainable Development and Sufficiency Economy Studies Centre, Preeyanuch Thammapiya said the project, launched in 2007, was designed to promote Thailand's three pillars -- nation, religion and the monarchy. The project instils the philosophy in learners through public activities in the hope of fostering unity amid crises in Thailand, the director said.

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