The Start Of SCLTHAILAND’S Fifth Year and Suggestions for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-0-Cha

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.


Managing M Exchange

Porntip Kanjananiyot
Chotima Chaitiamwong
Thailand-United States Educational Foundation
(TUSEF/Fulbright Thailand)
Student exchange remains an effective mechanism for education cooperation and
networking of higher education institutions, moving toward internationalization. Priorities are,
however, more on the exchange administration rather than the students who are the very
key component of the exchange, not to mention the staff. As today’s students, or the
Millennials (M), are from a different generation from those administering the exchange
programs, this paper aims to urge higher education institutions to seriously consider the
different lifestyles, values, perceptions, and expectations of the Millennials, which call for
different approaches to student exchanges based on the open-mindedness of policy makers
and staff to learn more about the changing needs and characters. The paper also shares
some of Fulbright Thailand’s experiences and observations in grant administration
particularly in the past six years when the Millennials have dominated the pool of our
grantees in our most popular programs.

Focusing on the Millennials
Many higher education institutions are hypnotized by the word “internationalization” and
have been struggling, alone or allied, to integrate international elements into their delivery of
education. As students are the main reason and the end result of higher education
institutions’ missions and their internationalization, students are undoubtedly at the heart of
their thinking and actions. The International Association of University 3rd Global Survey
showed that student-oriented activities, naming, outgoing student mobility, student
exchanges, and international student recruitment, have been made top priority under the
international policy of the universities.2

Here, we focus on student exchanges, which could be the most effective mechanism for
integrating international elements into both host and home institutions. It is with the strong
belief that exchanges not only foster relationships between the two, but they also heighten
desirable qualities from intercultural adjustments in cross-cultural settings and understanding
global issues to critical thinking and teamwork skills. Not surprisingly, the number of
collaborative MOUs is mushrooming. Many of them die young though initially they do help
add impressive figures to university profiles. Many others survive and flourish. There is no
secret for the ‘best practices’ to sustain relationships through mutual agreements as the
success all depends on individual context (leadership, mutual commitment, effective
management, etc). Learning and sharing from others, however, are useful for us to see the
possibilities of doing things better and in some cases, bring about innovations. With decades
of managing the Fulbright grants and observing student exchanges administered by other
institutions, we are aware of the increasing challenges at the core of any exchange – the

By their nature, higher education institutions are a big ‘salad bowl’ of people with different
talents, diverse cultures, and multi-generations. They are worlds within our world. Placing
students across institutions and countries will leave them in complex layers of different
cultures. Although we are more connected today through technological advancement and
the globalization process, being directly exposed to diverse cultures without proper guidance
could become terrifying or meaningless, thus making exchange programs unsuccessful.
In administering an exchange program, higher education institutions tend to pay much
attention to the ‘program’ itself, e.g. timeline, budget, criteria of the candidates, visa
procedure, etc. Facilities also rank highly on the priority list and so it is quite common for
universities to promote their world-class dormitories or libraries as part of the advantages to
attract exchange students. Such physical environment is important. Yet, it is much more
crucial for exchange administrations to focus on ‘students’ themselves who are, in fact, the
targets, beneficiaries, and promoters of educational exchanges. By having a student focus,
we urge universities to consider their actual needs and nature when designing and
managing the exchanges. These, we believe, matter most.
Millennials, not Mars
Ironically, student exchange programs are designed and run by administrators or lecturers
who are not the ones to participate in the programs, not to mention have different values and
needs than other generations. They are mostly Boomers (those born around 1945-1946)
and the Xers (around 1965-1978), who make efforts to provide the best program for the M
(those born after 1979). Therefore, student exchanges are based on the judgments and
standards of older generations, which could work very well…some twenty years ago.
The M, however, are not totally from Mars. In fact, they are the result of an evolution of their
older generations with some similar characteristics. It could be argued that the M inherit the
can-do attitude of Veterans, the teamwork spirit of Boomers, and the technological savvy of
Xers. Nonetheless, they seem to accelerate these characteristics to 3 the extent that the
other generations could really feel uncomfortable.
From such mild negative feelings, misperception, and misunderstanding resulting from
generation gaps could develop into a threat and, to be more relevant, a failure factor for
student exchange. In managing the exchange program, again, we must first try to be in our
students’ shoes.

The M-Factor and the Miscellaneous (Gender)
Literature reviews and Fulbright Thailand’s experiences have pinpointed six characteristics
of the M that call for serious consideration by all those dealing with them and future
generations to come. The following are discussed here as we have found them to be our
rising challenges that are becoming more and more relevant to student exchange programs.
Growing up in a time of high security and safety concerns, the M, regardless of how old they
are and what status they assume, are closely supervised and very protected by their
Boomer and Xer parents.4 Too frequently at Fulbright Thailand we receive calls or
unexpected visits from parents, who want to intervene in our working processes, simply to
‘ask something about my kid’. Obviously, because the M are pampered and sheltered, they
somehow lose skills for conflict resolution. Their lives are so directed and structured that
they could feel so lost if they are not provided enough information in advance. As a result,
some cannot even ‘feed’ themselves because they are very much used to being fed!


Evidently, the M have been raised to believe they are special and important people, which
results in their continued craving for attention. Every step of their life 5 is celebrated with a
belief that “the results don’t matter, as long as you did your best”.6 There is no surprise that,
to the older generations, the M are spoiled and always think they can do more than they
actually can. In other words, they have unrealistically high expectations and a strong sense
of entitlement. It is always the case, in which Fulbright grantees or even candidates are
more concerned about their ‘rights’ than their responsibilities.
Born with Google, Facebook, and many other high-tech innovations, the M adopt technology
naturally and use it to speed up life. They value efficiency and are not limited by the so
called ‘appropriateness’, which can make them look impolite (e.g. texting during a
conference, wearing jeans for an interview), impatient (regardless of the real necessity, they
want everything done now!) and careless in tending to details (focus more on speed rather
than quality of work).7 They are multi-taskers who proudly complete different assignments
within a minute, leaving us at the Fulbright office repeatedly spending hours or days
correcting them.
Social Networking
For the M, technology is about connecting.8 Cell phones, iPhones, and iPads are survival
tools for them to get connected anywhere anytime. They are active networkers through
social media such as Facebook and Twitter in a way that exceeds the six degrees of
separation idea.9 Inside cyberspace, they can do anything within a blink of an eye e.g.
updating news, sending/receiving messages, sharing opinions, and even getting their work
done. Facebook, for Fulbright Thailand, has become an effective tool in reaching long lost/
silent grantees/alumni and in passing along messages to our network. Still, it is a surprise
that sometimes we receive formal messages through Facebook.

More than other generations, the M tend to be group-oriented, working well as a team. When
given an assignment, they naturally delegate jobs among themselves, based on individual
specific skills and knowledge.10 Obviously, since the M are natural collaborators, they work
faster and more effectively as a team. On the flip side, they would easily hand their own jobs
off so that they could fully focus their talents to something else.11 At Fulbright Thailand, we,
nonetheless, find it very effective to ‘subcontract’ our young grantees to organize parts of our
activities such as study visits, community services, and orientation sessions for the next
Gender at Will
Along with increasing social openness, the M enjoy freedom of their sexual orientation.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) have been much more
common but are rarely considered by educational institution policy makers. To the M, the
freedom to express their gender and sexuality is another choice of personal preference,
similar to their choice of political party. It is not a crime and is definitely a right. This concept
of thinking is evidently too advanced for older generations and could lead to extreme
reactions. Regardless of increasing LGBTQ-related businesses, Thai society remains
reserved in regard to LGBTQ, particularly in the academic realm. When matching Fulbright
American grantees with Thai provincial schools, we have to consider this factor seriously. It
is not only a matter of school environment but also the community attitude that affect the
lives of the grantees. Likewise, when sending our students to the United States, we do need
to know the nature of the respective communities to ensure that our students will learn how
to behave properly.

These characteristics of the M, with interrelated strengths and weaknesses, give us clues
about not only the needs and the lifestyles of our students, but also the betterment of our
exchange program management.

Dealing with the Millennials: Fulbright Stories
At least two out of Fulbright Thailand’s five core programs target the M,12 e.g. the Open
Competition program (OC) for Thai students to study for master’s degrees in the U.S. and
the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program for recent American graduates to teach
English in Thai provinces for one full academic year. Having been in close contact with them
as candidates, grantees, and alumni, we experience countless cases, both positive and
negative, relevant to the aforesaid characteristics of the M. We try to understand their nature
and needs while constantly adjusting our grant management to tackle their challenges and,
at the same time, utilize their strengths. The following are some management mechanisms
we have found very effective.
Cross-culture Focus
Managing M exchange means managing at least two interrelated layers of cross cultures:
those between students and staff/administrators (cross-generation), and those between host
and home countries.
Cross-cultural understanding is, in fact, the founding principle and objective of the Fulbright
Program and became Fulbright Thailand’s embedded vision, missions, and highlight of the
Ten-year Framework (2010-2020). Emphasis is placed on self-understanding and crosscultural
interactions. Through friendly relationship and trust building, outreach activities have
served well as means to promote understanding of one’s own root and context.13 Grantees
can better share and learn from differences in a critical and constructive way when they
have increased appreciation of their own countries and cultures. Consequently, discussions
over host and home countries will become even more meaningful.14 Through cross-program
activities encouraging interactions among Thai and American Fulbrighters, grantees as well
as staff, they are able to learn how they themselves and others develop their intercultural
capabilities, and what management would best meet requirements of each group. A comfort
zone is then formed for all generations and nations within the Fulbright family. Indeed, crosscultural learning is a continuous process and cases are recorded for sharing and analytical
Different grants have different objectives and conditions thus requiring different kinds of
orientation. For the OCs and the ETAs, however, they receive orientation with a similar
broad structure including ‘must know’ and ‘should know’ issues that combine facts and
experiences. In addition to necessary information on grant administration such as financial
and visa issues, they are provided with tips for maintaining happiness and healthy living in
the host country. The tips vary from current political and economic issues, cross-cultural
management, art appreciation to stress management. The orientation is complemented by
informal/optional activities such as study visits, special talks by renowned guest speakers,
and community services to enrich their self-development while nurturing their sense of social
responsibility as a privileged few.
Tailored-made activities are also organized for various grant programs with different needs.
ETAs, the inbound grantees, benefit from a homestay opportunity plus practical teaching to
get to know a bit more about Thai classes and students while Thai school administrators, the
outbound grantees, are offered sessions to sharpen their presentation skills plus report
writing tips. All along, the emphasis is, certainly, made on an equal balance of requirements
and entitlements.

‘Extracurricular’ Activities
Various non-grant activities are organized in semi-structured style, with a group of grantees
taking charge of some assignments under our guidance and support. For example, OCs are
requested to team up for activities under the annual study visit “Knowing Our Own Roots”
while ETAs are to develop some orientation sessions for their successors and help with
community services every Thanksgiving Day. Group assignments are very successful in
tailoring activities to their needs and fostering close relationships among them. Obviously,
such activities benefit greatly from their teamwork, technological skills, and speedy actions.
In addition to group assignments, grantees and alumni are encouraged to volunteer for tasks
at our Fulbright office, such as graphic designing, article/news writing, being guest speakers,
and pre-screening grant applications. As a Foundation with most of the funding going to
grant administration, volunteers are an asset. The volunteering activities help us maintain
close contacts with grantees/alumni and provide them opportunities to ‘give back’ whether to
us or to the community (through knowledge sharing activities we organize).
Our attempt to expand and fortify the Fulbright Thailand network is greatly promoted by the
advancement of technologies. Once becoming Fulbrighters, grantees are encouraged to
keep close and active communication with their own batch and with us through e-group,
Facebook and informal gatherings. We also link them up with grantees, both Thais and
Americans, from other grant programs and alumni, particularly those in similar fields, region,
institution, etc. so that they receive support from their peers and their senior Fulbrighters
especially during their grant period. At the same time, experience sharing from alumni helps
our grantees be more realistic about their expectations, have some guidelines of what to
look for during their grant period, and develop a support network in the country.
Open Communication
At Fulbright Thailand, we cultivate family culture and therefore treat our grantees/alumni as
family who are always welcome to the office, physically and virtually. They are encouraged
to call, email, Facebook, Skype, or write us about anything from grant-related matters to
their life progress, their impressions, their personal problems, and even gossip. Often time, it
is we who initiate the communication for them to feel more comfortable and get to know
more of each other. Then, they start converse among themselves. Every message gets an
immediate response even during the weekends and holidays considering their need for
attention and periodic guidance.
On our end, we follow up with them on their safety and well-being. In times of crisis such as
natural disaster and political riots, we call, Skype, or use any other possible means to
connect with them, making sure they are safe and do not feel threatened. In return, such
family culture helps encourage them to keep close and open communication with us. Many
even said they feel comfortable with us and can be their ‘true’ selves. The challenge is to
balance between ‘open communication’ and ‘time management’ as the whole process is time
consuming and requires team members with a great sense of service and ‘Thai hearts’.

People-to-People Contacts: Policy Makers, Staff and Students
With the changing of students’ needs and characteristics, higher education institutions
cannot manage student exchanges the same way they did decades ago if they still wish to
join the internationalization movement. Before moving forward in advancing questions such
as “How can we help our students gain as much as possible from their exchange program?”,
“How can the institution benefit from the pool of exchange students, both inbound and
outbound?” or “How can we ensure that our student exchanges are not for just individuals
and a one-shot event?”, we propose higher education institutions step back a little to the very basic success factor of student exchanges which is normally overlooked – the
understanding and experiences of policy makers and staff members.
Both groups, though not the subject of student exchanges, are major driving forces for the
success and effectiveness of the internationalization process. Since our inception in 1950,
we have been in contact with senior administrators and staff members of different exchange
programs from other institutions and are certain that they are the ones who determine the
future of student exchanges. Both administrators and staff are generally composed of people
from different generations. Frequently decisions concerning the exchanges are rarely
dependent on the M. A good number of them have no or minimal direct exchange
experiences. These are, in fact, not serious challenges as knowledge can possibly be
gained and learning shared. The real challenge is achieving understanding and openmindedness
of the policy makers and staff members. These key people need to keep pace
with the changing needs and requirements of the M in order for this generation to be guided
properly and therefore gain the self-assessment necessary for maximum learning and

If policy makers and staff members do not try to understand different nature and needs of
the students, they will not be able to design and manage exchange programs appropriately
and effectively in order to create environments conducive to the learning of all concerned.

We, therefore, insist that higher education institutions encourage linkages of their policy
makers, staff members, and students, making student exchanges not just a travel
opportunity but a meaningful tool for students to learn about their own selves, to share their
talents and views, and to enhance the learning and sharing process that will benefit most in
the educational institution community.

Fuel Exchanges to Full Power
Having synthesized our accumulated experiences, we consider the following key to getting
exchanges started with full power.
On Mentality
Get started through the understanding by the policy makers and staff that the M have
changed and that management needs to be done in a far different way from what has been
done in the past. The Thai cultural traditions of following top down instructions out of respect
for seniority and authority only lessens the effectiveness of the exchange programs. Openmindedness to the voices and changing needs of students will make the exchange program
management more relevant and effective.
Take cross-cultural issues seriously as they directly affect the means and the ends of
student exchanges. Being culturally sensitive based on understanding and openmindedness
will enhance our own learning for the sake of our students and faculty. Indeed,
cross-cultural understanding based on true open-mindedness is a pre-requisite for being
global citizens, a much broader scope than simply being ASEANers.
Equally significant, establish a good balance between “entitlement” and “responsibility
in order to make the student exchange a meaningful personal development process as well
as allowing your office to be much more valuable than a service center.
On Actions
Manage to become a ‘C’ generation (Connected), by using the digital tools to which the M
group has been attached including everything from Facebook, and Twitter to Instagram and
Pinterest. By doing so, the benefits for the more senior generations will be to realize the M
changes better while getting closer to them in order to give proper support as needed since this generation seems to reveal their feelings and frustration to the social networking world
with ease. It is a beneficial opportunity to jump in as necessary.
Engage students in ‘must attend’ and ‘should attend’ activities while allowing room for them
to initiate and take lead in the planning while senior administrators and staff members render
support and help capture knowledge and experiences. Interview sessions could also be
open to allow M participation as they know their generation better in various ways.

Remember that “one size fits all” support does not work for different student exchange
programs. Though sharing some common core issues, especially logistics like passport, visa
and safety concerns, are vital, orientation and extra-curricular activities must be managed
differently to meet the different types of exchanges, national and local contexts, and
targeted generations.

Lastly, value the stock of experiences in sharing forums that can be recorded as ready
reference and more importantly, utilized to maximize benefits for all stakeholders in the
exchange and university system. This in turn will help the host and home institutions to
improve or innovate programs that can best meet the objectives of the exchanges and the
changing nature of our younger generations.

To gain maximum benefits from energy, efforts, academic and psychological investment we
have exerted while making sure that the objectives of our exchanges are met to
internationalize our own community, each higher education institution needs to review its
own policies and actions in order to formulate appropriate strategies to multiply desirable
outcomes from individual students and the overall investment.

Still not sure where to start? Ask your M Gen!


Paper presented at the First Fulbright Internationalization Forum (FIF), November 15, 2012 1 at Pullman Hotel, Bangkok. Thanks to Ms. Gracie Raver (2011 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and Fulbright Temporary Program Coordinator) for editing the paper.
2 Gu Qing. (2012).The Impact of study abroad on the student self in University World News Global Edition. Issue 26. Available at [accessed 11/20/2012]

3 Coates, Julie. (2011). Generational Learning Style. in Generation Y- The Millennial Generation. Available at [accessed 9/ 28/2011]

4 Ibid and Howe, Neil and Strauss, William. Characteristics of the Millennial Generation. Available at [accessed 9/28/2011]
5 Ibid

6 Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. (2010). The M – factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.
7 Ibid

8 Ibid

9 The six degrees of separation was initiated in 1929 by Hungarian auther Frigyes Karinthy 9 who believed that everyone is on average approximately six steps away through introduction from other person in the world. In other words, we are in a chain of a friend of a friend in which we could be connected to other people in six steps or fewer. More information at [accessed 10/14/2011]
10 Howe, Neil and Strauss, William. Characteristics of the Millennial Generation. Available at [accessed 9/28/2011] and Thielfoldt, Diane and Scheef, Devon. Generation X and the Millennials: What You Need to Know About Mentoring the New Generations at [accessed 9/ 28/2011]
11 Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. (2010). The M – factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.
12 There are 21 grant programs administered by Fulbright Thailand with various groups of applicants. More details at
13 For example, Fulbright Thailand organized an annual study visit “Knowing Our Roots” in Chiang Mai introducing Thai grantees to Thai cultural heritage and challenges with first-hand experiences.
14 To foster cross-cultural understanding, we believe we must look at the broad picture and how we exist in different layers of cultural context through the inside-out and outside-in analysis. Then, we can see the real values of our own culture as well as complementary and conflicting ideas. In this manner, diversity helps promote personal growth as it challenges any stereotyped preconception, open our horizons, and encourage critical thinking. With these, we can adopt and adapt ourselves appropriately and effectively.
Based on this concept, the Cultural Diversity Capsule (CDC Model) was developed by a group of Thai Fulbright Alumni and Fulbright Thailand in 2006 and used as a tool to promote cross-cultural understanding among Fulbright grantees.


Higher Education in China: With Sichuan University as a Case

Jian Shi – Xin Wang[1]


China now is undergoing speedy changes, and, along with the changes, the progress and development in its higher education is playing a critical role. The changes and progress of Chinese higher education could also reflect exactly the fundamental changes this country has been going through in different historical periods. The higher education in the modern sense in China has only a short history, less than120 years, compared with the higher education in the West. Its role-play, however, has great impact at every step of China’s development. With the history of Sichuan University, one of the leading prestigious universities in Southwest China and in the country, we could have a better understanding of the changes, ups and downs, of Chinese higher education.

Education in China has its unique long history, especially those private schools, normally with a very limited number of students taught by a master, but the modern-sense university only came into being in about one century ago. The forerunners of higher education established in 1890s were the present Tianjin University, Jiaotong University, Peking University and Sichuan University (1896). The birth of public university came in the intellectual historical background of saving the country through education, especially for the reformers who promoted the way, and some earlier history could be traced to Jingshi Tongwen Guan in 1862 and Jingshi Daxue Tang in 1898. Cai Yuanpei would, as the General Director of Education in 1912, be the remembered pioneering intellectual person in Chinese public education. In early 1900s China had its system of colleges and universities quickly established, and as a complement some colleges, especially those of western medicine, were set up by European and North American missionaries. Namely, Sichuan University at present is actually coming from three different historical backgrounds, former Sichuan University (1896), Chengdu University of Science and Technology (1952) and West China University of Medical Science (1910 by missionaries).


ChineseUniGate2 ChineseUniGate1















(Photos of the traditional gates and buildings of the three universities)


In the first half of the 20th century, both the public and private universities and colleges in China had been active frontier in the New Culture Movement in since 1910s, introducing and translating new and fresh ideas into China, and encouraging young students to be active in taking social responsibilities and later on in the War of Resistance against Japan. Then in 1949 when Chinese Communist Party took power and the People’s Republic of China was founded, all the universities and colleges were nationalized except a few private colleges such as Lingnan College left the Mainland for Hong Kong. In1952 a reorganization of higher education system in China was carried out along the European and then former Soviet Union lines with a focus on specialized training to meet the needs of the quick industrial and social development in the country. The specialized universities and colleges were run by different government ministries in addition to the Ministry of Education. West China University of Medical Science was an example.

At the early stage of New China, the government’s priority in education was the anti-illiteracy education. In early 1950s only less than 20% of the school age kids could go to school for education, and over 80% of the population were illiterate. If compared with the statistics in 2011, by the year of 2011 all the kinds in China have the 9-year compulsory education, and the illiterate population of the young and middle age were reduced to 1.08%. With this kind of changes, the demanding for higher education has been increasing quickly. But in the first three decades since the founding of P.R. China, the economic condition of the country largely decided the government investment, both from the central and local governments, in public schools and universities and colleges, which was very limited, if we consider the large population, high illiteracy rate and poverty in the 1950s, the natural and man-made disasters in 1960s and early 1970s, which held back the development of education in this country , even the universities and colleges were partly reopened with the students coming from workers, peasants and soldiers since 1972.

The restoring and normalization of higher education after the decade-long of Culture Revolution came in 1977 when the national college entrance examination system was reinstituted, and the Chinese higher education shifted from red (political criteria) to expert (academic achievement). Then we see a quick expanding of the university enrollment from 1978, when only 2.7% gross rate of the graduating high school students could get into universities, to 2013 when about 40% gross rate of the students could have their higher education. In some coastal areas and Beijing and Shanghai their figures are even higher. For the first time the Chinese higher education becomes a socially focused area, and the students and their families shift their attention from having opportunity to go to university to attending universities of good quality. Before the reform, the students were assigned to specific majors and institutions by the government and universities based on their examination scores, and the graduates were assigned to a life-long job position based on their academic performance in school.

Deng Xiaoping at the time acknowledged that China was behind the West by 100 years and the way to catch up was through education and open-door policies. For the first time, educators, professors and scientists were sent abroad by thousands to the developed countries in Europe, America, Canada, Australia and Japan. They had one to three years there for learning and training, and some of them had their master or doctoral degrees from the universities abroad. This bridged the gap in Chinese higher education, since its well-trained senior faculties were mainly coming back to China in early 1950s or former Soviet Union trained or self-trained as well. Since then government-supported visiting scholars and students’ studying abroad has been a national strategy to upgrade the higher education and science research and narrow down the gap between China and the developed countries. And in addition to that, the country in late 1990s opened up the self-financed students’ studying abroad, and since 2000 more and more families even send their talented kids abroad at high school or right after their high school. At a time the going-out and coming-back students and scholars were not even, but now the balance is almost achieved, seeing more students and scholars coming back home for better job opportunities or working environment. This open-door and studying abroad policy really gives Chinese higher education a great leap forward.

Another major reform in 1990s was tuition fee and job market. For decades the universities in China were tuition free, and the students were government supported, and they need not worry about their jobs. In 1990s with the reform, the students have to pay their tuition fee and accommodation annually, at a controlled rate that is not changed for decade, and the government support changes to scholarship to those who perform well in learning and to those who are in poverty. The jobs that were used to be assigned to the graduates now were competed for by the students with their talent and ability in the job market. And the college students’ unemployment upon their graduation becomes a social issue now that draws more and more attention from the governments both central and local. The universities also put their effort to help their graduates to have jobs and even to create opportunities for their students to create job opportunities by financing their practice with their initial innovative ideas.

With the increasing demanding for higher education from the society and the expanding of the enrollment in 8 years since 1994 there had been a reform and reshape of the universities and colleges, and at the same time the private or enterprise sectors started to step in for higher education. Some of the universities in various provincial capital cities and regions merged together into the comprehensive giant universities, and most of the universities had their campuses enlarged in double or even in triple sizes. Sichuan University was then the leading one in the merge, with the former Sichuan University of arts and science merged with Chengdu University of Science and Technology in engineering in 1994 and later further merged with West China University of Medical Science and its four affiliated hospitals in 2000. Then Sichuan University became one of the biggest universities with Jilin University, Shandong University and Zhejiang University in China. It has three major campuses with 30 schools in arts and science, engineering and medical science. Sichuan University now runs 133 undergraduate programs, 443 master programs and 349 doctoral programs with about 1370 professors among 4882 teachers, about 40,000 undergraduate students, over 20,000 graduate students and over 2000 international students. From this size one can imagine the quick increase of the higher education of China in its enrollment, and China has shifted in a short time from elite education to mass education. This explains well the quick increase of the gross enrollment from 7% of 1998 to 15% of 2002 and then to 26.9% of 2012, and now this figure is over 30%. The central government’s investment in education in China in this period has also highly increased from 2.7% of GDP in 2002 to 4% of GDP in 2010. By the year of 2012, the total number of universities, colleges and vocational colleges jumped up to over 2700, and among them 1024 were four-year undergraduate program universities, and this number is over 1200 by the end of 2014.

With the quick development and enlargement, China’s higher education is big or huge in scale but still weak in strength. To catch up with the international higher education level, Chinese government has also launched several specially financed projects, namely, “211” University Enhancing Project (100 universities in this project), “985” World-Level University Project (39 universities in this project) and “One-thousand Leading Scholar Project” (to attract Chinese oversea scholars to come back to the universities and research institutes), “One-thousand Young Scholar Project” (to attract the young Chinese oversea PH.Ds to come back to the universities and research institutes and enterprises), and “2011 Research Collaborating Project” (to encourage the universities and institutes to bring together the research resources in the major front academic research areas). On the one hand, Chinese central government and local government give their support to the speedy development of higher education, and on the other hand, more attention is given to the quality control, particularly for the undergraduate education. The teaching methodologies and teacher’s training are stressed. In 2005 there was a nationwide undergraduate program quality-control survey and on-campus inspection. The quality-control now at each school is the priority in teaching work in the undergraduate programs. The classroom teaching is shifting from teacher-centered to student-centered and then to learning centered, in which the students are not offered the “fish” but trained in skills about how “to fish”. Researches are carried out on the learning habits of post 1990s younger generation at the campus, the students are encouraged to have more hand-on practice in learning, and they are encouraged to have their creative and original abilities developed. More attention is given to the students’ ability to learn, ability to innovate and create, and the ability to articulate. In the classrooms less full-time lectures are conducted, and more chances to have the students’ voices and ideas heard. General cultivation in liberal arts, hand-on skill training in various academic majors and innovative and creative talent exploring in and out classroom are the new tendencies in undergraduate education at almost all the campuses of Chinese universities.

To match up with the speedy progress of its economy and the quick changes in social and cultural domains, China’s higher education is now moving on at a faster speed and is trying with the effort to meet the international higher education standards, there is still a long way to go. With the reform of the National College Entrance Examination and with the more independent administrative power for the universities and colleges, we could expect still deeper and quicker changes to come in next five years.



1.       《国家中长期教育改革和发展规划纲要(2010-2020)》[Z]. 北京:人民出版社,2010. (The Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020).

2.       教育部, 2012, “2012教育统计数据”[OL]. (Education Statistic Data of 2012, MOE).

3.       刘延东.“在世界语言大会开幕式上的致辞”[R]. 2014年6月5日,苏州. (“The Opening Remark at the World Language Conference by Vice Premier Liu Yandong”).

4.       四川大学校网

5.       四川大学档案馆

6.       《中共中央关于进一步深化改革的重大决定》[Z]. (CCP’s document of important decisions for further deepening reform).

[1] Jian Shi, Professor of English at English Department of Sichuan University, Ph.D. from Lehigh University, U.S.A. and Xin Wang, Professor of English, Chairperson of English Department of Sichuan University, Ph.D. from Sichuan University, China.


Do You Understand?


Ms Ellen Cornish and Dr Don Jordan

‘The biggest communication problem is we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply’. (Source unknown)

How often have you given a lecture or lesson and checked for understanding during the session by asking: ‘Any questions?’, ‘Did you get that? ‘Does everybody understand? ‘Does that make sense? Teachers often allow one or two confident students who respond to such questions, to speak for the rest of the class, and accept these responses as evidence that the whole class has understood the concept or idea being developed by the teacher. The teacher will then make a decision about where to move to in the next part of the lesson or series of lessons.. As teachers, even if we select students at random to answer a question, we might select a student for which the question is either too easy or too hard.

We know that less confident students will sit quietly, but we don’t know whether they understand or not, or whether they are too shy to say anything in case they show their lack of understanding in front of their classmates.

Teachers rarely go into a lesson with a plan of the questions they might ask as part of the teaching and learning process, even though questioning and discussion are key aspects of good pedagogy.

Too often, classroom discussion only involves the most confident students, ignores the majority of those not volunteering to participate, and relies on prompts and questions that we don’t plan in advance.

Questions are an important way to check for understanding, so it is important to ensure that questions engage students in deeper thinking, not just prompts for them to recall information that they have read or have been told.

By planning questions, teachers can ensure they are tapping into deep issues of learning. One way to make a question suitable for all students is to ask the question at a number of different levels either orally or written. Well-crafted questions are an important way for teachers to determine what their students know, need to know and understand. [1]

One way to make certain that the questions we ask really engage students in creative and critical thinking is by developing questions that represent the range of knowledge that is taught in classrooms as well as the deeper understanding we are striving to achieve. The way to do this is to plan questions in advance.

Guiding questions to help teachers incorporate checking for understanding in their lesson planning include:

  • How do I provide opportunities in my classroom for students to ask questions?
  • How is discussion used in my classroom as a support for deeper understanding?
  • How will I find out what misconceptions or naïve assumptions my students have about the topic?
  • How do I know what my students understand?
  • What evidence will I accept for this understanding?
  • How will I use their understandings to plan future instruction?


There are numerous questioning techniques; the most relevant in any learning setting will depend on the purpose and context of the lesson.

Previous SCLT authors have outlined important techniques that engage students in critical thinking through deep questioning. [2] Melvin Freestone (2012) discusses generative, focus and explorative questions.

Generative questions are gateways to inquiry; focus questions shape learning and explorative questions direct learning. Each type of question has a particular value, role and function in learning. When they are used in combination, they become powerful and empowering beyond words.

By way of analogy – generative questions paint the big picture, focus questions provide the colour and texture, and explorative questions give the detail. An artist looking at or creating a work of art sees the overall picture at the same time as the detail and nuance. (Freestone 2012)

[3] Greg Cairnduff (2014) discusses ‘Five powerful questions a teacher can ask to promote student thinking in the classroom’.

‘Teachers would agree that for inquiry to be alive and well in a classroom, amongst other things, the teacher needs to be expert at asking strategic questions, and not only asking well-designed ones, but ones that will also lead students to ask questions of their own’.

Keeping It Simple

  1. What do you think?
  2. Why do you think that?
  3. How do you know this?
  4. Can you tell me more?
  5. What questions do you still have?

Provide time for them to think, before requiring students to answer.

Fisher and Freya (2007) suggest a series of question stems that require students to reflect on and to explain their understanding. Suggestions include:

  • How is_____________similar to / different from_____________?
  • What are the characteristics / parts of _____________?
  • In what other way might we show / illustrate _____________?
  • What is the big idea / key concept in_____________?
  • How does_____________relate to_______________?
  • Give an example of________________?
  • What is wrong with ________________?
  • What might you infer from________________?
  • What conclusions might be drawn from_______________?
  • What questions are we trying to answer? What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What are you assuming about________________?
  • What might happen if _________________?
  • What criteria might you use to judge / evaluate________________?
  • What evidence supports_________________?
  • How might we prove / confirm________________?
  • How might this be viewed from the perspective of_________________?
  • What alternatives should be considered___________________?
  • What approach / strategy could you use to __________________?

Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956), identified six levels of thinking, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation and creating. These levels of thinking are explained in an earlier SCLT article by Cornish / Jordan[4] where we share our experience in using Bloom’s Taxonomy in our classroom teaching

Supporting Bloom’s six levels of learning are questioning stems that enable students to demonstrate their deeper understanding, from the simplest level, remembering, to higher order, creating and evaluating.

Bloom’s Taxonomy; Six levels of questioning.


  • What happened after…?
  • How many…?
  • What is…?
  • Who was it that…?
  • Name…
  • Find the definition of…
  • Describe what happened after…
  • Who spoke to…?
  • Which is true or false…?


  • Explain why…
  • Write in your own words…
  • How would you explain…?
  • Write a brief outline…
  • What do you think could have happened next…?
  • Who do you think…?
  • What was the main idea…?
  • Clarify…
  • Illustrate…


  • Explain another instance where…
  • Group by characteristics such as…
  • Which factors would you change if…?
  • What questions would you ask of…?
  • From the information given, develop a set of instructions about…


  • Which events could not have happened?
  • If…happened, what might the ending have been?
  • How is…similar to…?
  • What do you see as other possible outcomes?
  • Why did…changes occur?
  • Explain what must have happened when…
  • What are some or the problems of…?
  • Distinguish between…
  • What were some of the motives behind..?
  • What was the turning point?
  • What was the problem with…?


  • Judge the value of… What do you think about…?
  • Defend your ideas on / about…
  • Do you think…is a good or bad thing?
  • How would you have handled…?
  • What changes to… would you recommend?
  • Do you believe…? How would you feel if…?
  • How effective are…?
  • What are the consequences…?
  • What influence will….have on our lives?
  • What are the pros and cons of….?
  • Why is….of value?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Who will gain & who will lose?


  • Design a…to…
  • Devise a possible solution to…
  • If you had access to all resources, how would you deal with…?
  • Devise your own way to…
  • What would happen if…?
  • How many ways can you…?
  • Create new and unusual uses for…
  • Develop a proposal which would…




Ellen Ellen has had 33 years’ experience teaching in Tasmanian schools.

Since March 2011, at the invitation of public and private sector education establishments, Ellen has focused on work with educators, post graduate students and teacher trainees in Thailand and Cambodia.

Since 2012 she has been co presenter been co presenter in an ongoing program to assist the development of skills in classroom strategies and teaching methodologies of staff and education students at Battambang University, Cambodia

Since 2014, she has been working with the Health Sciences Faculty at Puthisastra University, Phnom Penh, helping develop and teach units of work in the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Learning.

In Thailand, in 2011, she was involved as a co evaluator of the Mechai Pattana Secondary School in north eastern Thailand. She has co presented workshops for university staff and senior Education and PhD students in the Faculty of Education at Silpakorn University, since 2012.

Ellen has co-authored a number of articles for Student Centred Learning Thailand.



Dr Don W Jordan

Dr. Don Jordan

Dr Don Jordan is an experienced educator, having taught in a number of schools in Tasmania, Australia. He is currently working with nurse educators at the Health Sciences Faculty, Puthisastra University Phnom Penh Cambodia, teaching units of work focussing on teaching and assessment strategies that promote critical thinking. Don is also working with education students at the University of Battambang, Cambodia, conducting workshops for staff and education students on classroom strategies and methodologies.



Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007) Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. ASCD, Virginia, USA.


[1] Fisher and Frey 2007

[2] Melvin Freestone. SCLT, Oct. 2012.


[4] E Cornish and Don Jordan. SCLT. (August 2013) Student Self-Assessment: what I ask myself.


articles Op Ed

November 2014 – the Situational Approach

Jurgen Zimmer, in this month’s article, “The Situational Approach in Didactics of Higher Education” makes a solid case for progressive education. There are many educational approaches encompassed under the rubric of progressive education and certainly the situational approach is pivotal. At SCLThailand the term student centered  translates into many similar or identical approaches including not only the situational approach but also: brain-based learning; the inquiry method ; the discovery method ; experiential learning and learning by doing.

Professor Zimmer brings into sharp focus what teacher education has missed. The result of “missed lessons” is teachers continuing to rely on the lecture method. Research shows much more long term memory learning when students actually participate in the learning process.   Professor Zimmer is the co-founder of the School for Life in Chiangmai, Thailand. The curriculum purpose of the school is to establish a situational approach to learning that will lead to students being prepared for life after the completion of high school and also make the school and the boarding of the students more and more self-reliant.

Taking inspiration from Professor Zimmer’s situational approach, it might be useful to give an overview of a learning project plan for students at the School for Life who are interested in coffee production and interested in using coffee as a gateway to learning how to be an entrepreneur. At each step in the process of empowering the students who join the coffee club, there will be problem solving based on knowledge gained followed by actual practice and then, reflection followed by action.

The first steps in the process of forming a coffee club at the School for Life have already started. Ms. Praewa, a coffee expert and coffee educator has introduced the art of coffee making to all the students of School for Life in three afternoon sessions during the month of November of 2014. The introduction was a hands- on experience on how to judge coffee bean quality and how to identify and select coffee beans; how coffee is harvested and how it is roasted; and finally how the barista makes the experience of coffee memorable to the end user in a café. Students thus begin to understand the importance of knowing coffee bean quality and what it takes to produce a quality  coffee bean. They also begin to understand the importance of temperature and air flow in the coffee roasting process. And  by the end of  Ms. Praewa’s course the students begin to understand the importance of marketing and presentation of coffee.   In sum, the three sessions Ms. Praewa lead are the hook used to capture the interest and enthusiasm of students who may wish to go on to join the coffee club.

The coffee club will continue to develop coffee making and entrepreneurial skills.   Interested students will register their names with the head of school who, along with a committee of teachers, will choose a group of students, a mix of 25 boys and girls, to be members of the club based on their enthusiasm and grasp of the ideas and skills Ms. Praewa presented through hand-on experiences during the three day sessions on the art of coffee making.   Once the coffee club is formed, advisors will be assigned and the coffee club will begin a mind -mapping exercise to decide what they already know about coffee; what further questions they need to ask about coffee and where they hope to get further information. The club will also do a mind mapping exercise on what they hope to achieve at the coffee club and how they will realize those objectives and what help they might need.

The club members will also have to decide how they will make decisions, how often they will meet, and how meetings will be managed.   Readers of Professor Zimmer’s article may recognize that these mind-mapping exercises may well result in the coffee club students making their own situational analysis. Indeed, that is the hoped for result.   Once the club has formed the questions that need to be answered and the skills they will need, the advisors and students will explore links with the knowledge and skills offered in the Ministry of Education curriculum. These links will probably lead to blended learning. For example, inevitably, the club will decide that they want to mount a small business. They will conclude that they have to have some way of tracking profits and losses. The need to learn certain math skills in order to do the accounting will be evident. Moreover, the students may decide it is worth learning a computer program like EXCEL to help them speed up the process of preparing financial statements.

After the club’s mind-mapping exercises, there will be a need for reflection. Are the objectives coming out of the mind-mapping exercise reasonable? Should the objectives be prioritized? What should be the time-frame? What resources are available? Where and how can other resources be found?   Again, readers of Dr. Jurgen Zimmer’s article may recognize this provision for dialogue as an integral part of the situational approach. Out of the dialogue students will use their knowledge and skills to help “steer” their own development process. The advisors will help guide and coach the coffee club toward a common purpose and goal. The students will be learning in a wide variety of situations, i.e. by going to coffee factories, visiting coffee plantations and visiting cafes. Each experience will be recorded by each the students of the coffee club in  personal student journals  and then discussed in group meetings. What has been learned? How can we apply what we have learning to our situation in the School for Life?

We return now to the purpose of School for Life. The coffee club is in league with the school goal of preparing coffee club members to be innovative entrepreneurs. And the this project also mirrors the second goal of School for Life of self-reliance by establishing a coffee production center at the school where professional coffee experts help bring in revenue through coffee productions and sales. Peter J. Foley, Ed.D.



by Jürgen Zimmer Thirteen Theses and Commentaries THE SITUATIONAL APPROACH: IN A NUTSHELL The situational approach has its origins in the educational reforms of the early 1970s in West Germany. Based on a critique of curriculum design in formal education, it initially stemmed from a much-publicized reform at an elementary level – in kindergartens. Back then, like today, a central question was how ideas about the future and imaginings of a world which is worth living in for all – children, young people and adults – can be realized. The origins of the situational approach encompass the work of social critics such as Shaul B. Robinsohn, Paulo Freire, Siegfried Bernfeld and Ivan Illich. The consequences include not only extensive kindergarten reforms, but also community education, learning in projects, open teaching, promoting entrepreneurial spirit and UNESCO’s “Open Learning Community”. Autonomy, competence and solidarity, the educational and developmental objectives of the situational approach, lead the design of educational and psychosocial fields of work with children, young people, families and communities. Business enterprises which feel a sense of duty to be part of the solution to global and local, environmental and social issues have integrated these objectives into their mission statement. To shape the present and the future with self-determination and in solidarity with those who are weaker; to allow the potential of all members of an institution or a society to come into play, beyond old boundaries; to develop personal, social, factual and methodological competences in contradictory and challenging life situations – these are the targets, established through the situational approach for the development of social communities which are increasingly influenced by global processes. In recent years, the situational approach has proven increasingly to be a universal principle of development: learning in real life, learning as a challenging adventure, open-ended learning, learning to stand on one’s own feet – these are the principles that are demanded by a plethora of social fields of action. The further development of the approach was initially driven forward by kindergarten teachers, educationalists, psychologists and development workers. Over the years, the situational approach networked with other movements and set new priorities; new fields of application include intercultural education, the integration of people with disabilities, the alleviation of poverty through entrepreneurship education, psychosocial work in conflict areas, Youth and Adult Education. To date, the approach has spawned debates amongst urban planners, development workers, socially-oriented businesses and educational institutions around the world. It has also become clear that we cannot talk of “the” situation, because situations are always different, depending on whether they are in India, Brazil, South Africa, Italy or China. MISSED LESSONS 1. For many teachers of higher education, training in didactical methodology is thin on the ground: it doesn’t exist. As a result, the courses on offer are often characterized neither by a variety of methods nor by practical relevance to reality. Traditional lecture and seminar patterns dominate and theory is not followed by practice, nor is reflection followed by action. Knowledge gained in this way is easily forgotten because it is not connected with personal experiences. 2. New uniformity in the educational system threatens to cancel out diversity in forms of learning. The increasing strangle hold by the rampant examination system is leading to the restoration of learning which is divorced from reality. Education is increasingly reduced to memorization for the next test, then forgetting what has been learned and memorizing again for the next test. This renewed ‘de-schooling’ of schools continues at university level and is further fueled by international comparative tests. HIGHER EDUCATION DIDACTICS IN THE SITUATIONAL APPROACH 3. Situative and systematic learning cannot be separated from each other, but rather enable each other in alternation and are closely related From 1986 to 1988, a broad-based Delphi survey on the development of education was conducted in the Federal Republic of Germany by the Ministry of Education and Science. Hundreds of experts were involved in multiple phases, and the results showed numerous similarities to the situational approach: the acquisition of skills for the development of problem-solving knowledge is seen as increasingly relevant – the situation approach helps in locating and weighing up these problems as well as in the provision of realistic settings and highly differentiated learning environments. Increasingly, learning will take place through the alternation of formal and situational training. Problem-solving knowledge is becoming more important than pure knowledge. We will have to say goodbye to the canonization of knowledge into a fixed educational canon – the situational approach has long been building on exemplary situations, expressly renouncing the attempt to find the ‘timeless’ and transcultural. For curriculum development as part of blended learning, it is important that developments and interventions in practice are in an alternating relationship to expounding theory, and that both are aligned to the respective key problem and serve to solve this problem. This reciprocal relationship is brought alive through its connection to the situation. 4. The situational approach respects neither the border between Humaniora and Realia, nor the boundaries of subjects and scientific disciplines. In kindergartens, this means connecting social and subject-based learning. In the field of engineering education, building a bridge cannot simply be an architectural or structural matter – indeed, it takes place in a social, environmental and cultural context which is important to identify and consider with care. Example: an interdisciplinary research group at the Max Planck Institute for Educational Development in Berlin examined two industrial companies with a chief interest in revising the didactics of mathematics teaching. The question was which mathematics-related skills mature people need to understand the processes of such a company with a critical consciousness. In this research group, mathematical, sociological, psychological, economic and educational science skills were represented. From the results of the situation analysis it was concluded that the most important knowledge is the ability to analyze pre-mathematic values and quantification processes which are controlled outside of mathematics. This insight would probably not arisen from a mono-disciplinary approach. The qualifications that can be formulated out of a situation like this are of a different kind all together than those which deal simply with “getting your sums right”. 5. Elements of the curriculum (modules) can develop out of key situations and problems. The resulting four steps of situation-related curriculum development are: • Exploration: identification and analysis of the situation It is important that this is oriented towards an interest in gaining new insights and grounded in theory. The analysis can be carried out by the students themselves, through discourse with actors in the situation as well as through the acquisition of knowledge which is relevant to the situation and experiences from other sources. • Decision: the determination of qualifications and objectives Carrying out a situation analysis can help to ascertain which facts are relevant to qualification, providing pointers towards desirable skills and competencies that are useful for dealing with situations and their intrinsic problems. However, the situational approach is about more than just a subject-related qualification. It can open our eyes to what is desirable, to real utopias and to shaping situations anew. In the words of Ernst Bloch (“the Principle of Hope”): “We need the most powerful telescope, that of polished utopian consciousness, in order to penetrate precisely the nearest nearness.” • Action: Interventions People want to gain qualifications in order to make a difference. Inherent in this are both the competence and the intervention. This can be short and to the point or take the form, for example, of a project. Example: The most famous project in American Progressive Education was reported by William Heard Kilpatrick. In the typhoid project, when two pupils from a farming family fell ill with typhoid, their school class investigated the reasons behind the outbreak on the farm, found out the causes, formulated recommendations to address these causes, and assisted the farmer in implementing these to ensure that typhoid did not break out again in the future. • Reflection: evaluation and further perspectives Questions inherent in an evaluation of the first three steps include the following: was the situation analysis sufficiently differentiated and were suitable theories formed? Were the objectives realistically formulated? Were the interventions really connected to the objectives? From any given situation, many bridges can be built to further situations and provoke never-ending learning processes. Example 1: The swimming pool at the School For Life northeast of Chiang Mai (Thailand) was initially kept clean by an energy-intensive filter system. When the people heard about the theory of a “natural swimming pool”, they put small rice paddy fish and a few plants into the water and watched happily as the little fish – in contrast to goldfish – kept the water clean. At first there were more and more of them, but then their number started to decline again. Why? Small green water snakes were now cavorting in the pool and eating up the little fish. The children and adults decided to put larger fish in the pool instead of the small ones, so as to supply the kitchen. But then a cobra family with a particularly aggressive cobra mother moved to the water’s edge, and once again the fish were in trouble. Later, they tried microbiological methods, but no sooner had the water become clean, there was a small earthquake which cracked the base of the pool and out seeped the water… Have all these problems been resolved by now? No, but a lot has been learned. Example 2: You can develop a curriculum from generative themes stemming from a company, city, region or country. The generative themes themselves, rather than the structure of a scientific discipline, shape the curriculum. In Nicaragua in 1986, a fourteen-day seminar was held with 60 members of the Ministerio de Educación in order to decide which generative themes would characterize the current situation in the country. All of them started with “falta de …”: lack of energy, lack of food, lack of spare parts, lack of medicine. Broken down into a university curriculum, this resulted in a subject or module on the theme of “the lack of spare parts and what can be done about it” and a project to address the recycling of a contrast fluid used in the only X-ray machine at Managua’s hospital, so as not to be dependent anymore on contrast fluid imported from Sweden at a high price. The subject “the lack of energy and what can be done about it” pointed the way to a rural area where there was no more firewood because of deforestation, and the attempt to build a biogas plant without being able to buy the necessary materials in the nearest store. 6. Interventions within the framework of the situational approach are dependent on the acceptance of the actors in the given situation. Dialogue is one of the cornerstones of the situational approach. Teachers become fellow learners, students become co-researchers, the former objects of research become subjects who help steer the development process. If a department of a company which was highly innovative when initially founded loses its power of innovation over the years, and situation analysis has identified the problem areas with the participation of all stakeholders, ways out of the dilemma will be pursued, corrected and readjusted together. Adult education thereby becomes adult self-education, primarily. Students of the Carl Benz Academy might fail or get held up battling in new terrains, but failure also contains intensive learning when it is done at a high level, as Hermann Glaser (a gifted former Head of Cultural Affairs of the City of Nuremberg) once put it. Example: In the tea plantations on the steep slopes of Darjeeling, one of the key problems is soil erosion, caused mainly by deforestation. Workshops attended by members of a university and tea plantation workers addressed the question as to which conditions would be necessary so that newly planted trees or bushes would not be cut down again after going to seed. The workers responded that the bushes trees could stay if they had another economic benefit, for example in connection with the breeding of silkworms or because edible mushrooms grow well under certain trees. Counter-example: An expert from the developmental organization GTZ initiated the setting up of a Craft Chamber in the capital of a small African country, investing a large sum of money. As soon as he had gone, taking the source of the financial support with him, the Craft Chamber gave up the ghost. 7. The situational approach needs allies If the inhabitants of a Brazilian village with the generative topic “water” wish to gain access to the river, but are frightened off by the private army of the large land owner whose disused land they have to cross, then they don’t take an active part in history, like the young Paulo Freire would have wished, but rather they fail upon meeting barriers that they cannot overcome alone, and their literacy teachers behave like a vanguard without troops. The older Paulo Freire learned from this, and highlighted the importance of joining forces with the social movements, with the movement of the landless, the women’s movement, the Afro-Brazilian movement or the unions. 8. The situational approach is not a vehicle for the promulgation of closed world views In a documentary scene towards the end of the film “La Victoria” by Peter Lilienthal, a literacy teacher shows a poster on which many people are all looking in the same direction, although it is not clear what they are looking at. The teacher asks what the people are looking at so expectantly. The illiterate pupils – the scene is a barrio on the outskirts of Santiago de Chile – offer answers, but none of them are right. Finally, someone suggests that they are looking at the compañeros of the MIR (revolutionary left movement in Chile). Yes, says the teacher, that’s right – because the MIR helps you. The teacher is part of this left-wing revolutionary movement herself. Abuse of the situational approach includes when its users come with ideological baggage and engage in dialogue with manipulative intent. Example: The “Iglesia ni Cristo”, an aggressive Philippine sect along the lines of a “Church Business” tried this and wanted to use the situational approach to capture the key problems of the people in order to wrap them around their little finger. They were prevented from doing so. 9. The situational approach must first of all take seriously the interpretations of meaning of all participants These interpretations of meaning may be influenced by “magical-intransitive consciousness” (Freire) or by incomprehensible cultural patterns, but respects demands that they are perceived and negotiated in dialog. Example 1: Years ago, German pharmaceutical representatives met with a German-Filipino student group in Manila. The pharmaceutical representatives lamented the lack of sales even of reasonably priced drugs. The students researched: the obstacle was not the price but the fact that the leaflets did not specify which ceremonies were to be carried out on taking the drugs. Example 2: On behalf of her organization, a German PhD student was supposed to investigate why the rural population in Tanzania refused to take medication to treat an otherwise fatal disease. Her situation analysis showed that the people believed that the sick patients had been occupied by the most evil of all curses and therefore irretrievably doomed to death. Only when the project staff changed their strategy and spread the word that the magic formula contained in the drug reversed this curse and could bring the half-dead back to life again, did the drug / magic potion start selling like hot cakes. Example 3: A project by the Carl Benz Academy examines the occasional car-rampages carried out by Chinese owners of luxury cars, destroying their cars in public or letting them be pulled by oxen. The analysis so far seems to suggest that there are not only technical, but also social and cultural reasons causing this behavior. 10. One of the strengths of the situational approach is that it is culturally adaptable. Since the 1980s, in some countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, workshops and projects on the development of a pre-school curriculum have been carried out. These events all began with an intensive brainstorming session to identify and prioritize the key situations of the children in the region. These situations differed depending on the location. Examples: Thailand: “Going to the Temple” (meaning cultural alienation through cultural invasion); “Chaotic traffic in Bangkok”: (meaning: it is almost impossible for children to cross a road). Philippines: “Surviving a typhoon”; surviving on a sinking boat; “surviving fire” (in Slums); “surviving gunfire” (between army and Guerilla). Malaysia: “Boys don’t touch girls because they think they have to marry them”. South Korea: “Getting lost in the city” (the house numbers in Seoul are not in rows, but rather added according to when a building was built, meaning that number 2 can be somewhere entirely different than number 3). Indonesia: “Girls don’t eat bananas” (Taboo), “New York” (the answer from children in a kindergarten in Jakarta when asked what is the capital of Indonesia). Hong Kong: “Home Alone” (parents go to work for 9 or 12 hours and leave the children alone at home). Singapore: “Alone in the elevator” (meaning isolated children as a result of the government’s single child policy). Ghana: “Girls and women don’t eat chicken” (in a workshop, it turns out that this is only true in one province, where the men have convinced them of this so that they can eat the chicken alone. In the neighboring province, the women eat chicken). Nicaragua: “Fear of armed attacks” (meaning the activities of the Contra in the 1980s). 11. The situational approach doesn’t need a campus or a school building to unfold. It doesn’t stake any territorial claims. It is mobile, goes to the hot-spots where things are happening, and favors contrasting milieus. These hot-spots are action sites characterized by a generative topic. This means that instead of the students gathering where professors teach, both meet at selected locations where things are going on and engage with them. In his famous essay “Sisyphus or the Limits of Education” (1925), Siegfried Bernfeld remarks that the ridiculousness of pedagogical activities is that it is done in the wrong place and only protects the status quo. Ivan Illich (“Deschooling Society”) wrote that the most intense learning takes place through unhindered participation in relevant environments. Example 1: a group of German students prepares for a trip to the slums of Manila. They are taken directly from the airport to their accommodation: huts encircling Smokey Mountain, the city’s enormous reeking garbage mountain from which around 3000 families make their living. They are shocked. But the aim is clear: assisting in developing Productive Community Schools, in which “learning and earning” are connected. The students learn that the road towards this aim is one long obstacle course. Example 2: a team of Turkish and German university teachers from Berlin take around 70 students for a stay of several weeks in West-Anatolian villages as part of – or better still, instead of – a seminar on intercultural education. During this time, a military coup ensues. The borders are closed. The students and their teachers take on the role of immigrant workers for a while, and are touched by the heartiness of their hosts and find out that there are other ways to treat foreigners than was the case in Germany in the late 1970s. 12. Those who work with the situational approach might find themselves veering off the path they were on. Since situations are, by their very nature, not fully detectable events, they can take unexpected turns. This is often a good thing. Example: a high school teacher working in an Afro-Brazilian majority school on the southern periphery of São Paulo works on forming a curriculum of sassy resistance against the white Goliaths. Teachers, parents, neighbors and the headmistress take part in an intense and spirited way – it is a mixture of workshop and party and lasts several days. But then the story takes a different turn: a delegation of around twelve Guarani Indians enters the school building, sit down silently on the floor of the seminar room and observe the happenings for an entire day. They are silent. Finally, however, one of them stands up, announcing that he is chief of the Guaranis, his name is Karai, and he wants to report what their problems are and why they also need a school of resistance. They came from a reserve near São Paulo, and because the city was continuing to grow and was rapidly approaching the boundaries of the reserve, white land speculators had begun to individually ambush and shoot the Guarani Indians. For this reason, the Indians were only leaving the reserve in groups. The professor asks them what kind of school of resistance they want. One with weapons, says Karai. The professor finds this idea hopeless and presents another idea: the Guaranis could build an Indian Academy in the reserve, an academy for the reconstruction of indigenous knowledge and its connection with modern knowledge. For example, one could merge old knowledge of ecology with modern knowledge, and that would be interesting for many Brazilians and guests from other countries, and they would visit the academy, fund it through their donations, and stop the speculators through their presence. No sooner said than done – almost. A Swiss foundation supplies the money. The Indians start to build their academy, the press come, the first visitors register, but then everything turns out differently. “Globo”, one of the big television companies in Brazil, turns up with the plan of making a 42-part “Novela” on the (invented) love story between the Karai’s beautiful daughter and a young white Brazilian. And so it is. And when half of Brazil sees this story and the press photos of the reserve are published, even more people want to come and see the site of the action. The academy was done for, it wasn’t necessary any more. It sufficed to take an entrance fee from the visitors. But they had reached their goal nonetheless: no more shootings from speculators, and Karai thanked the teacher with a long hug when he saw him again years later. His “magic” had worked, he said, and he had already guessed when he sat in the Afro-Brazilian school that things would develop in the right direction. 13. The situational approach meets with innovative entrepreneurship. It is better to create jobs yourself than running after non-existent ones. You can start early. Example: in the “Villa Kunterbunt” kindergarten in the Brandenburg village of Crussow, since the mid 1990s, the children have successfully been breeding thousands of common German garden worms (2 for 5 Cents). The children researched what makes works happy, because happy worms have lots of babies – 500 little worms per happy worm. They discovered that a wormery with different layers of worm-friendly earth and an upper layer of fresh organic compost can be arranged in a variety of ways. They discovered that by holding a bright light over the wormery, the fully grown worms, ready for harvest, can be motivated to come out of the ground and form bundles like balls of wool that can be easily harvested, while the younger worms carry on burrowing around in the soil, apparently oblivious to the light. They have discovered that the flies that like to eat worm eggs can be shooed away by the smell of old oil, which is why the kindergarten sometimes smells like a car repair workshop. The children have learned to love their worms and have started selling them to gardeners and horticulturalists rather than fishing clubs. What they haven’t got the hang of yet is the cultivation of the aristocratic Canary Island earthworm. Of handsome figure and lively temperament, these are usually flown in from the Canary Islands for German customers, and cost 20 cents each – a steep price. The Canarian worm doesn’t feel at home in Crussow’s little wormeries, not even with a special menu – it loves the liberties of free-range rearing. But how do you get a worm that burrows eight feet into the ground (in order to get married and protect its 500 worm eggs from flies) to come back up to the surface again? By drilling 7,80 m deep holes and sending down a scent which promises a royal gala dinner for worms? But shouldn’t this menu really exist, so that when the worms crawl up and poke their tips out of the ground to sniff, they don’t return back home disappointed? The children of Crussow have not yet uncovered the secret of how to help the Canarian crawlers settle into the Brandenburg soil and stay together, or how to collect them. It would certainly be an economical quantum leap. The children of Crussow could undercut the import prices of Canarian earthworms. They could rear more of them outside than in the basement. Sales would roar. The surpluses generated would be sufficient for the formation of reserves and investments. Because the children have discovered a new market niche: there is no one who repairs bicycles in Crussow… The Essence The ‘wilder’, the more unexplored the terrain, the greater chance the situational approach has to unfold, and the more we have the opportunity to be refreshed. But even for those who work in institutions, the principle of hope holds true: in terms of learning, the situational approach is an escape artist.


Enhancing Education Through Relationships

by Tyler Belanga

Over the course of the last two years, I served as a Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools, a U.S. non-profit that partners with struggling urban middle schools to expand the learning day. Specifically, I was assigned to the McCormack Middle School in Boston as part of a small cohort called 8th Grade Academy (8GA), the goal of which was to prepare students for success in high school and college. With almost zero teaching experience entering my service time in the program, I tried to keep my expectations low at the outset of year one. Little did I know that I was going to learn a great deal about myself, as well as acquire many best practices for educators that would lay the groundwork for a potential career in education. What makes 8GA such an inspiring and effective program, and one that I believe is worthy of widespread emulation, are three distinct things, all related to building relationships, that widen the scope of an educator’s role beyond just the classroom.


1) First and foremost, in 8GA there was an extraordinary emphasis placed on teacher-student relationships. How many thousands of enlightened educators have proclaimed this to be extremely important I do not know, but I will confirm here the veracity of the statement. In my experience, the element of trust is infinitely more effective than consequences or incentives in motivating students to learn and in keeping them on-track. However, most students can easily identify feigned interest; authenticity conveyed through honest and consistent dialogue is vital. An educator who cannot at least give the impression that he is interested and invested in the lives of his students should either enroll in acting classes or find another career, because the job cannot be successfully executed without this element.


8GA created an environment in which I could support my students not only academically, but also emotionally. From feelings of intellectual inadequacy, to problems with other students getting in the way of schoolwork, to serious personal conflicts that had not been shared with any other adult in the building, I encountered a vast array of issues that required addressing. I could not always solve these issues on the spot, but often it was only the knowledge that an adult was there for them that students truly needed. These one-on-one conversations also often lead to crucial dialogue about students’ careers and futures, which allowed me to give advice and tailor lessons concerning job skills, pathways to specific types of colleges, etc. to individual aspirations.


2) The second element that made 8GA successful was constant communication and collaboration between education professionals. This practice created a network of safety for students and one of mutual accountability among educators. Students cutting multiple classes were noticed and promptly pulled aside. Dissemination to the relevant teachers of information regarding discord in a student’s home life led to an increased sense of understanding and to more purposeful planning around that student. Weekly meetings to discuss a student in danger of falling off in one subject begot check-ins from teachers throughout the day to ensure that the student used all available free time to complete homework for that class.


The sharing of strategies in the classroom was particularly helpful for me, as I discovered that the struggles and frustrations even between dissimilar classes are often quite consistent. And if the math teacher has discovered the secret to getting a troublesome student to focus in class, why should this magic weapon be withheld at the expense of continued disruptions in all of the student’s other classes? There were countless instances in which veteran teachers gave me small pieces of advice that, when implemented, resulted in swift and tangible results in my own classroom. I worked with some of the best teachers in Boston who taught me, among many other things, that the further from an island mentality each teacher within a school has, the closer to a pedagogical paradise the school draws.


3) Finally, I learned in 8GA that being present and visible in the school community can have massively positive effects. Increased visibility can come in many forms, such as holding a potluck dinner during a monotonous time of year or attending a school play held after dismissal. When physical encounters are not possible, visibility can come in the form of a voice over the phone. For example, calling home to praise the performance of a normally difficult student after a particularly impressive showing in class can literally bring a parent to tears. The rewards of such minute but uncommon actions are often far greater than the efforts required to perform them.


It should be clear that a vastly important stakeholder comes into the picture here: families. Family involvement is an absolutely critical component in driving student success. A student who feels supported is typically a successful one, and deficiency in this area often leads to insurmountable problems in others. A great educator can have a profound impact on a young person, but it cannot be forgotten that a student spends the majority of his or her time at home. Many large urban schools struggle to establish a tight-knit feel, but I have seen pockets of heavy family involvement within a student population, and I believe it is possible to achieve in large school communities as a whole. The key seems to be making families feel as though they are a relevant part of the equation, which usually involves teachers taking the initiative to reach out.



It is my firm belief that the model of 8GA, which involves an adult serving as a mentor, therapist, teacher, outreach coordinator, and advocate to a group of students is a highly effective educational apparatus that can be used to drive student success, whether it is in the U.S. or on the other side of the world in Thailand. Although my days at Citizen Schools are now behind me, I plan to keep these three core values close as I begin teaching at Vajiravudh College in Bangkok. My role will not be the same; I will be teaching exclusively English and not College Prep. I will not be taking students off campus, nor will I make phone calls home to parents. I will undoubtedly experience some difficulty communicating with students and native coworkers.


All of this, however, simply means that I will have to work harder to forge bonds with the people at Vajiravudh College. I will still have ample time to build relationships with students by synchronizing our breaks and having lunch with them during the week. I will be working very closely with other teachers, especially veterans who have experience in a system that is completely new to me. Finally, I will have the opportunity to attend prayer assemblies in the morning and rugby matches after school, allowing me to be more visible in the school community. Although I am teaching abroad for the first time in my life, I look forward to growing as an education professional at Vajiravudh College and applying the valuable lessons I learned as a part of 8GA in the United States.


Five Powerful Questions:


From Edutopia

How do you ask questions in your classroom? What works well with your students?

Teachers would agree that for inquiry to be alive and well in a classroom, amongst other things, the teacher needs to be expert at asking strategic questions, and not only asking well-designed ones, but ones that will also lead students to ask questions of their own.

Keeping It Simple

Asking straightforward, simply-worded questions can be just as effective as those intricate ones. With that in mind, if you are a new teacher or perhaps not so new but know that question-asking is an area where you’d like to grow, start tomorrow with these five:

#1. What do you think?

This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.

#2. Why do you think that?

After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.

#3. How do you know this?

When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they’ve experienced, read, and have seen.

#4. Can you tell me more?

This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.

#5. What questions do you still have?

This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.

Provide time for them to think

In addition to routinely and relentlessly asking your students questions, be sure to provide time for them to think. What’s best here: three seconds, five, or seven? Depending on their age, the depth of the material, and their comfort level, this think time will vary. Just push yourself to stay silent and wait for those hands to go up.

Also be sure to vary your tone so it genuinely sounds like a question and not a statement. When we say something in a declarative way, it is often with one tone and flat sounding. On the other hand, there is a lilt in our voice when we are inquiring and questioning.

To help students feel more comfortable and confident with answering questions and asking ones of their own, you can use this scaffold:

Ask a question, pause, and then invite students to “turn and talk” with a neighbor first before sharing out with the whole group. This allows all to have their voices heard and also gives them a chance to practice their responses before sharing in front of the whole class.




Student Center Learning Debate: Common Core vs Balanced Literacy

Student Center Learning Debate: Common Core vs Balanced Literacy
By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D.

The purpose of this article is to take the reader through some current arguments that are part of the debate over student centered learning. At the risk of being simplistic, the current thrust of the student centered learning advocates is to dethrone teachers from their traditional lofty perch at the front of the classroom lecturing on a topic for an entire class period. The extreme is the teacher—all too often found in Thailand—just feeding the students information with little or no chance for class discussion or exchange. At worst this teacher monologue continues for the whole class period. In fairness there are model schools throughout Thailand that have become much more student centered. There are also some private foundations that have spearheaded effective student centered model schools like the Lampaimat Pattana School for elementary school and the Michai Pattana School for high school. Both schools are located side by side in Lampimat, Burirum in northeast Thailand.

Research has shown that students normally can only absorb what a teacher is teaching for a maximum period of 20 minutes. In sum, if the traditional lecture method of teaching just described is used, student will probably be receiving about half the information the teaching is explaining at best.

Student centered learning proponents want a much more balanced schedule of teacher and student activities. For example, the classroom might start with the teacher explaining for 10 or 15 minutes the basic lesson for the day and then have students “turn and talk” about what they think the lesson is about with their fellow students. Then the teacher might introduce problems to be solved using the instructions given at the beginning of the lesson either in groups or individual work while the teacher goes around to each group or students to help . At the same time the teacher makes formative assessments to see how well individual students are grasping the information or concept.

An extension of the argument for student centered learning is currently being waged in the U.S.A. under the banner of balanced literacy vs common core. A lot of the arguments now center on elementary education, particularly on how to teach reading.
On July 3, 2014 , the New York Times featured this debate. In New York City the city government from 2003 to 2008 mandated balanced literacy methodology. Even at the end of the 1990 many teachers in New York City accepted balanced literacy as a correct way to teach. Teachers across grades and subjects were told to follow a “workshop model”, i.e. a short mini-lesson followed by practice group or independent work, then a final sum up of learnings at the end of the class. At this time, therefore, student centered learning advocates were winning the day, at least in New York City.

One of the debaters in this New York Times feature was Diana Senechal, author of Republic of Noise, The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture. She argues that such pointed structuring of class lessons is wrong because so much depends on what is being taught, so the best teaching method for a particular learning sessions should be entirely left up to the teacher to decide. But this argument fails because traditional teachers—when given a choice—do not change. Despite a specific policy for a change to student centered learning in Thailand back in 1999, there has been only incremental change , and Thailand’s rural areas continue to be dominated by teachers using traditional teaching methods only.
Another New York Times participant in the debates , Claire Needell, the author of Nothing Real, argues that a balanced literacy approach gives too much freedom to students to decide what they want to read, especially on the elementary school level. Student get the impression that books are for their pleasure only and they need not tackle more difficult texts or subjects that they are not interested in. The end result, she contends, is that students will be unprepared for the rigors of high school , and later, college subjects.
And this is the main point of the common core advocates that have come to dominate the U.S.A. landscape during the eight years of the Bush administration and into the Obama Administration. American Schools must be accountable and standardized testing is the key to holding public schools and teachers accountable. This was the central thinking behind President Bush’s signature program called “Leave No Child Behind.” The actual Common Core Standards were written in 2009 under the guidance of the National Governors Association among others.

Thailand has its own Common Core and its own standardized testing. It would appear that both the United States and Thailand suffer from a testing meritocracy that favors students who, by accident of birth, are from the upper income families.
The problem with common core standards in both countries is that the standards are rigid and fail to test the real intelligence and over-all abilities of the test takers. Moreover, in countries following common core and over dependent on standardized tests, teachers are unable to teach creatively and teach for deep understanding since they are judged on how well their students do on the standardized tests.

Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, says that U.S. schools currently are over dependent on standardized tests. Furthermore, such testing is unjust since students from poverty backgrounds or minority , non-English speaking backgrounds will perform, on average, less successfully. Cannot the same be said for Thailand? Is there not an opportunity gap between rich and poor opening wider and wider in both countries? And isn’t one of the cause and over dependency on standardized tests that results in many worthy students to be cut off from further education?


Graduate of the Year


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

This month we are doing something for the first time. We are presenting an op ed piece written by Nickolas Kristof.

Below you will find a link to Kristof’s moving article of a Vietnamese girl from a poor farming family who refused to give up on getting an education. In Thailand there are thousand of young girls in exactly the same situation. But most Thai girls would not refuse their families call for economic help and so they fall into the trap of leaving school after Moo 3 and taking a menial job and, because of their lack of education ,remain in the cycle of poverty. What I would like our readers to think about is how we can support the girls who want to carry on their education – and that means also to think about how we can support the families of girls from poverty backgrounds too. In most cases the pressure on young girls from poverty backgrounds is just too great to offer the resistance that Tay Ti in the article below was able to muster.

Read the article here and please comment!