Student Centered Learning – Thailand

A Centre for Education Reform in Thailand

Welcome to Student-Centered Learning Thailand


Long Live Democracy!

Our Mission:

To provide a center of discussion , information and planning for 21st Century education reform in Thailand that will lead to a unity of purpose and action among  Thai and international educators to realize the goals set forth in the National Education Act of  B.E. 2542 (1999).

At the heart of this National Education Act B.E. 2542 (1999) is a move toward student-centered learning and a student-centered  classroom.  Specifically, Section 24 of the Education Act outlines what must be done   to improve  education  performance : 1. arranging learning in line with the students’ interests , aptitudes and individual differences ;2. training students in thinking abilities, especially critical thinking; 3.organizing learning activities that draw from authentic experiences; and 4. promoting situations where learners and teachers learn together.  

In addition to addressing these key issues of education reform in Thailand , indeed in international education, we also focus our attention and resources on the goal of promoting Thai teachers to reach their potential as skilled teachers using teaching methods that engage their students with the result that students love to learn through self discovery.

ยินดีต้อนรับสู่ Student-Centered Learning ประเทศไทย


พันธกิจ: เพื่อสร้างศูนย์ข้อมูล การแลกเปลี่ยนข้อคิดเห็นและวางแผนสำหรับการปฏิรูปการศึกษาของประเทศไทยในศตวรรษที่ 21 อันจะนำไปสู่การปฏิบัติอันเป็นไปในทิศทางเดียวกันของนักการศึกษาไทยและต่างประเทศเพื่อให้บรรลุเป้าหมายที่กำหนดไว้ในพระราชบัญญัติการศึกษาแห่งชาติ พ.ศ. 2542 (1999) ใจความสำคัญของพระราชบัญญัตินี้คือการมุ่งไปสู่การเรียนรู้และการเรียนการสอนในห้องเรียนโดยมีนักเรียนเป็นศูนย์กลาง โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งมาตรา 24 ที่กำหนดถึงสิ่งที่ต้องทำเพื่อพัฒนาประสิทธิภาพของการศึกษาไทยคือ : 1. จัดการศึกษาให้สอดคล้องกับความสนใจ, ความถนัดที่แตกต่างกันของนักเรียนแต่ละคน; 2. อบรมนักเรียนให้มีความสามารถในการคิดวิเคราะห์ด้วยตนเอง; 3. จัดกิจกรรมการเรียนรู้จากประสบการณ์จริง; และ 4. ส่งเสริมการเรียนการสอนที่ครูและนักเรียนได้เรียนรู้ร่วมกัน นอกจากประเด็นหลักเพื่อการปฏิรูปการศึกษาในประเทศไทยเหล่านี้ แน่นอนว่าในระดับโลกเรายังมุ่งเป้าไปยังการส่งเสริมศักยภาพอาจารย์ชาวไทยในด้านทักษะการสอนโดยอาศัยเทคนิคการสอนที่ให้นักเรียนมีส่วนร่วมในชั้นเรียนเพื่อให้นักเรียนมีความรักที่จะเรียนรู้ด้วยตัวเขาเอง

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  • 2 Responses

    1. Roberto

      26|Apr|2016 1

      This is a comprehensive and well thought out article. Much appreciate bringing the SCLThailand readership such a view of student centered learning. Kinds regards, Roberto

    2. Rahul Thampi

      09|May|2016 2

      This is a very interesting initiative that we would like to learn more about. We incorporate this learning style at our international school as well.

    Leave a reply

By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor-in-chief

I am suffering from education reform fatigue. I suspect there are tens of thousands of reform fatigue sufferers here in Thailand who are concerned parents, concerned students and concerned educators.

And so, on March 1, 2016, when I read yet another call for education reform article in the Bangkok Post, it was hard not to stifle a yawn, then a sigh, a sigh of resignation. The article is entitled “Declare Education in a State of Emergency.” The authors of the article repeat what so many articles in the Bangkok Post and The Nations newspapers have cried about for the past six years: Thai students’ low international PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment) scores and disastrous O-Net scores. Yet, the article, like all similar calls for reform since SCLThailand’s, founding six years ago is empty on solutions, an empty gas tank. And that goes for the present government’s attempt at reform with its 65 modules to address 33 educational problems nationwide. It is doomed to failure unless the issue of the teacher’s role in Thai society is not addressed first and foremost.

As the article indicates, Thai education officials have reached out to Finnish educators to discover what has made Finland one of the highest PISA scorer nations in the world while spending less of its proportional GNP on education than Thailand. The Thai educators must have discovered that Finland’s success was due to its well paced curriculum, effective teacher training programmes and school autonomy and decentralization. Thailand suffers from a strictly hierarchical, top-down management system of course. But even if these needs are addressed in Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan’s 65 modules, there remains the essential problem in Thai society and that is the prestige and compensation of Thai teachers.

In sum, good teachers, highly esteemed and well paid in Finnish society is the reason for Finland’s public education success. Until Thailand focuses on raising Thai teachers position in Thai society with meaningful teacher standards and subsequent financial and recognition awards, Thai education will continue to languish and disappoint. Thai students, and therefore Thai society, will continue to suffer and its place in the new ASEAN economics will remain problematical.

The Thai Minister of Education might want to start real reform with a fund created with big corporations and government support that awards merit pay to outstanding teachers. This would include awards for best teachers in each province of the Kingdom of Thailand. This step would immediately raise the interest of Thailand’s best and brightest university graduates. It is these best and brightest Thais that are so badly needed in Thai classrooms.

If the Education Minister initiates such a program, SCL Thailand and Foley’s Coffee will rush to be the first in line to make a contribution.

  • One Response

    1. Brett wilkin

      03|Mar|2016 1

      I understand many of the issues as I taught through these same changes for 25 years in Australia. At least they gave some autonomy to the schools as they decentralised but now the federal government is trying to take control again. In Australia many teachers (not all old) could not deal with the reforms and held on to the teacher centered classrooms with many retiring early due to lack of ability to cope. It took Australia a long time and I see many of the same issues here. Thailand educators are in for a tough ride especially as it also accelerates society change. But in the end there is only one thing worth fighting for and that is education for all.

    Leave a reply

Empty Quality?

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Student-Centered Best Practices

By Peter J.Foley, Ed.D. , editor-in-chief
Dr. Nancy Sulla’s recent article in SCLThailand advocates effectively the need for teachers to pave the way for students to drive their own learning.  In the author’s words: “the teacher must be able to differentiate instruction such that each student is working on challenging but achievable objectives.”

Coincidentally, as Dr. Sulla’s article appeared in SCLThailand, The Samsung Smart Learning Project was featured in THE NATION ( Monday, November 16, 201). The project, according to staff writer, Pratch Rujivanarom, “has been successfully implemented in Loei to try to encourage students to study what really interests them….”  The NATION newspaper article describes how at Phu Kradung Wittayakom School in Loei teachers teach the skills students will need to research and complete projects.  The project based model  seems to follow at least some of the principles laid down in Professor Sulla article in SCLThailand.  It would be very interesting to see if the Samsung supported project in Loei uses the scaffolding  methods and essential curriculum tools professor Sulla champions.  It is the opinion of SCLThailand that without these essential student centered learning components the Loei  project will be doomed for failure.

There are also caveats on relying too heavily on technology.  As Dr Chanpen Choprapawan, president of the Thailand Research Association for Child and Family Development warned,  too much reliance on technology is “not good for students.” Chanpen said that children should learn about the world around them using their five senses—touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting.”

It would be well-worth investing in Dr. Sculla’s books to learn how to maintain a proper , balanced learning program using the full range of student centered learning teaching best practices. Dr. Sulla’s book : Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-active Technology–infused Classroom is particularly recommended.

An education for the 21st Century

IB : An education for the 21st Century by Lister W. Hannah

We realise that we are living in a fast changing, increasingly complex, more interdependent and connected global community. Children entering kindergarten now (2015) will be graduating from high school in 2030 and probably entering the work force in the early to mid 2030s. The daunting challenge schools are facing in meeting parents’ expectations is that schools are having to educate their children for potential jobs that don’t exist now, using technologies that have yet to be created, and solving problems that haven’t been thought about.


The critical question then is how can schools best prepare the young to be lifelong learners for the adult world of the late 2020s and early 2030s?


“The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning: it should produce not learned but learning people….In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” (Eric Hoffer)


We believe that young people need to understand and know how to learn to be able to cope with this challenge of a rapidly changing world.


Schools need to engage, enable and empower students to become knowledgeable, independent, open-minded, and confident life-long learners; in short, students need to take ownership of their learning. Their curiosity and cross-cultural understanding of the world they live in and the nature of the change that is happening both in their own countries and globally needs to be cultivated and deeply understood. For this to happen they will need to have developed analytical, critical and creative thinking skills.


But we all know that academic rigour, important as it is, on its own is not enough. Research has shown that EQ, emotional quotient, is a better predictor of a fulfilling life than IQ. Our children also need the social and emotional skills and abilities to develop their capacity to be resilient and deal with the challenges, the stress and the pace of change, especially in the workplace and in their relationships. They need the ability, the empathy, to understand and respect their own and other cultures, and to resolve differences in relationships constructively and peacefully. Above all they need to live with good character, proactively, compassionately, sustainably and with integrity.


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation provides outstanding programmes to meet these challenges. The IB offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for 3-11 year olds, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for 12-16 year olds, the Diploma (DP) and also the Career Programme (CP) for 16-18 year olds. These programmes are recognised world-wide and is highly regarded as a preparation for life in the 21st century. The IB has already educated well over 1 million students in 145 countries since it was founded more than 40 years ago. The IB Diploma has become a preferred university entrance qualification to top universities around the world.


The appeal of the IB programmes lie in their ability to assimilate best practice from national systems, while not being tied to any national political system, in other words being truly international. They have rigour and challenge students academically; they have a breadth in offerings which educates the whole student; and they have an emphasis on attitudes and values which provide for building social and emotional skills and the capacity to live successfully.


Core features of the Programmes are: sustained inquiry into established bodies of knowledge; principled action through learning by doing, experiential education; critical reflection leading to deeper understanding; meaningful assessment, monitoring progress through appropriate feedback to students, and internationally benchmarked. Integral to these features is learning in global contexts and the promotion of cross-cultural awareness and international mindedness.


In sum, IB programmes are student-centred, encourage inquiry, collaboration, research, creativity and an understanding of learning how to learn. Further, they provide an emphasis on inclusiveness in an increasingly multi-cultural national and global society and cultivate the experience of how to be of service to others. This is an education for the 21st Century.


Lister W Hannah




By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor-in-chief


This month’s article limns the important innovations in higher education taking place in China. Importantly, this education revolution is based on the principles of student centered learning. Significantly for Thailand, these educational reforms echo the reforms Thai lawmakers set forth in 1999 that, sadly, have not yet been realized.


The authors, Shi Jian and Wang xin, explain that a centerpiece of these teaching reforms is problem based learning. Such learning compels the students to think for themselves, to analyze and solve problems. As the authors point out, teaching from a problem based learning model makes changes in the classroom necessary to facilitate this student centered learning approach.


For example, at Sichuan University new furniture was ordered to facilitate moving chairs and tables to enable group discussions and small group learning. Class size has been reduced to no more than 30 students in a class. Sichuan University students are learning to create and analyze problems using critical thinking skills. In sum, “teacher centered teaching is replaced by student-centered classroom discussion…..” The long range goal of these changes is to better prepare Chinese students for the needs of the 21st century job market where problem solving using digital technology will be increasingly required.


Student Centered Learning Thailand ‘s previous Op Ed noted the recent and powerful political, social and economic influence China is having on Thailand. Some commenters have said that this influence is at the expense of the United States’ traditional influence. SCLThailand sees this point of view as wrong footed.


SCLThailand wants to see a different view of international influence where the purpose of other countries’ aid and influence is not competitive but, rather, cooperative. We wish to be part of an international progressive education movement that encourages all countries to exchange and share in the spirit of international cooperation, a spirit of universal love of learning, a spirit of brother and sisterhood.

As we have discussed in our previous paper, Chinese higher education in its development has been closely tied up with China’s political, economic, social and cultural development, and it has played an important role in the changes of China in every aspect. When we moved into the 21st century, China has kept its speedy development in economics and social changes, and with the continuing reform and development the higher education in China has undergone still greater changes.

Full Article Below:


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  • 2 Responses

    1. Jack

      31|Aug|2015 1

      Dear Dr. Shi Jian,

      Thank you for this informative and comprehensive essay on Chinese higher education reforms. These reforms will have a positive influence not only in China but throughout the world. Thank you for giving us this valuable profile of the changes in education happening in a country that has changed economically and socially faster than any nation in the history of the world.
      All best wishes,

    2. Miss Tan

      28|Sep|2015 2


    Leave a reply

By  Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor–in-chief

As we start our fifth year of publishing SCLThailand, we reflect on the ingenuity and goodness of the Thai people. Yes, there are struggles in terms of education reform in Thailand, and yes, there are concerns that the results of Pisa and O-Net exams show Thai students’ poor academic performance lagging behind other SE Asian countries. But keep in mind that Thailand remains the second largest economy in SE Asia and also is the most visited.

This having been said, SCLThailand has tried to point out over the last four years specific reforms needed in Thai education. We have pointed out a need to bring more critical thinking learning as part of the Thai curriculum, more emphasis on early childhood education, and greater efforts at leveling out the huge disparity between rural education and urban education in Thailand. We have also emphasized the need for better teacher training, training that should move Thai teachers away from rote learning teaching methods to a more student centered teaching approach that includes regular formative and summative assessments.

The constantly changing political landscape in Thailand has retarded desired changes. Thai progressive educators have called for the realization of a remarkable set of laws the Thai parliament formulated and passed in 1999. SCLThailand and many Thai educators are hoping that the current military government will jump start the process of the 1999 education reforms before turning over the government to a democratically elected government as has been promised.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as head of the “education superboard” could make two important changes that would start to address two critical issues facing the Thai Kingdom: the lack of academic rigor throughout the system and the widening disparity in educational opportunities between rich and poor. A recent suggestion in an article in the Bangkok Post ( July 23, 2015) to institute the International Baccalaureate (IB) system in leading government schools in each province , providing model curriculums and assessments, would act as a lighthouse for other government schools .

To start to address the inequality between rural schools and urban schools, a crash program the Prime Minister could offer top graduates from Thailand’s leading universities an opportunity to serve the nation as rural school teachers for two years. A similar program, known as Teach for Thailand, has already started at Chulalonghorn University and could be used as a model to build on.

Finally, on this fourth anniversary of the founding of SCLThailand I would like to thank all the editors and our web master for their contributions. I would also like to welcome our newest editor to the board of SCLThailand, Ms. Porntip Kanjananiyot, whose outstanding qualifications can be summed up as follows:
Porntip Kanjananiyot (Ms.) worked as Executive Director of Thailand-U.S. Educational Foundation from October 2003-October 2014. Before that, she was Director of the International Cooperation Strategy Bureau and Higher Education Standards Bureau, Commission on Higher Education (formerly known as Ministry of University Affairs). Throughout her career, she has worked in several ministries, including Education, the Prime Minister’s Office (Office of the National Education Commission), and University Affairs

Khun Porntip, is also the author of this month’s featured article. We are very pleased to have this Thai professional educator join the editorial board.

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