GIVE THAI TEACHERS A BREAK
by Peter J. Foley, Ed.D.
Give Thai teachers good teacher training; a decent salary; and good working conditions. Above all give teachers credit and rewards for the work they are doing day in and day out with their students . Do this and Thailand will soar to the top of academic standing in Asia and the world instead of stagnating as evidenced from poor comparative scores of Thai students in math , science and English on the PISA exams.
Finland leads the world in academic standing. Singapore is a leader in Asia. They both attract students to become teachers who graduate in the upper third of their college graduating classes. They meet all the criteria above. Thailand has the money to do this too. Thailand actually spends more of its GDP on education than Singapore does. It is how the money is spent that is the touchstone.
Here is how the some of the money should be spent:
- Give the teachers the minimum salaries proposed of 15,000 baht. Most teachers now are making only 8,000 baht , an unattractive salary for a college graduate;
- Identify the most outstanding teachers in each province and send them to other schools on weekends for special in service teacher training sessions in low performing schools, especially those in the rural areas;
- Run a nation-wide competition for the most outstanding teachers from each province and then pick one teacher for the elementary school and one teacher for the secondary as the most outstanding public school teachers in Thailand for that year. Make those two teachers that year’s ambassadors for education in Thailand ;
- Revamp the Ministry of Education web site so it becomes a central resource for teachers, both as a source of teacher training and new teaching opportunities. The web site should be filled with project based and inquiry based lesson plans for each grade level and corresponds to the national curriculum. It also should house a video library of the best teachers shown in their classrooms using best practices;
- Identify the poorest performing schools and arrange for dynamic educational administrators to assist the school administrator to turn the school around.
- Begin a Teach for Thailand program similar to that which was organized in America in order to attract the best and the brightest college graduates. Offer these brightest of graduates a forgiveness of student loans for a three year teaching commitment in the rural school setting.
To get an idea of the kind of material that the M.O.E. might post on its web site I would like our readers to refer to the blog of one of Asia’s finest teacher trainers from Singapore, Professor Yeap Ban Har. Ban Har also serves on the SCLT board of editors. I observed Professor Yeap in Singapore giving a teacher training class. Professor Yeap personified inspiring, elegant teaching. Please see: http://banhar.blogspot.com
Thai teachers are responsible for educating the next generation of Thais. Too often , far too often, we all forget just how important these educators are. The short film , “Teddy’s Story” is a poignant reminder of just how important teacher can and should be. Please see: “Teddy’s Story”.