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.