New Aspirations for Education in Thailand
Towards Educational Excellence
by the year 2007

Main Menu,New Aspirations, The Cabinetís Statement, Ministry of Educationís Policies


1. Goal : to develop education in a manner which is conducive to economic development of the nation and corresponds to the Eighth National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP). At the same time it is to be adjusted in harmony with globalization to attain educational excellence by the year 2007 2. Rationale : Education is instrumental in :- 1) alleviating poverty as well as narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor; 2) human development in accordance with the Eighth National Economic and Social Development Plan which indicates a shortage in qualified workforce; 3) creating peace for mankind; 4) creating national security. 3. The past seven NESDPís have made such unprecedented economic progress that Thailandís rates of economic growth remain amongst the highest in the world. This economic prosperity has unfortunately widened the gap between the rich and the poor resulting in disparities in quality of life. Only 30% of the population earns more than 50,000 baht per capita per year while 70% or approximately 40 millions earns less than 50,000 baht. Thus, these 40 millinon people are forced to have a lower quality of life than that of the unskilled workers who earn the minimum wage totalling over 50,000 per year. Consequently, the offspring of these 40 million poor Thai citizens have unavoidably been deprived of good quality compulsory education. The matter is worsened when considering their lack of opportunity to undertake a 12 year- continuing education, due to the financial difficulties of their parents. 4. One national policy must stipulate that the State shall render education to its citizens from the cradle to the grave, with the concept of providing every youth with a good quality 12 year- continuing education, from pre-kinger-garten, through kindergarten, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, vocational or equivalent to higher educational level. Within this framework, compulsory education should therefore, be regarded as fundamental for everyone, in enabling them to earn their living and attain a desirable quality of life in society. For such reasons, the State has a policy to expand compulsory education from 6 years to 9 years and eventually 12 years. 5. It is the mandate of the Ministry of Education to provide 12 year compulsory education for the 12 million youngsters studying within the formal system, and another 3 millions in the non-formal system. 6. The Ministry of Education is a large organization which employs more than 600,000 teachers and civil servants who serve within 17 main departments and those with the equivalent status. This workforce undertake the task of administering education from perprimary to higher educational educational level. There are more than 40,000 schools and educational institutions covering all areas throughout the country. 7. For the past decade, the Ministry of Education has had to encounter a great number of accumulated problems which, while have not been rectified, pose as obstacle for any effort to provide 6 years of good quality education. Moreover, they also make the task of expanding compulsory education from 6 years to 9 year and eventually 12 years, with the aim of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and enabling every to lead to good life in society, extremely difficult to fulfill. The problems which have accumulated during the past decade can be mainly identified as follows:- 1) Insufficient budget. As over 82% of the budget is spent on personnel salary and administrative costs, only 18% is left for educational development which does not correspond with the 40% the country has earmarked for the development budget as a whole; 2) No administrative unity; 3) Vaque educational policies and plans which are not in line with economic development and the fact that the world has now become a global village; 4) Teacher shortage. The fact that no clear solutions have been made aggravates this problem in the rural areas; 5) Inefficient budgeting spending as well as lowquality material and equipment procurement. Loose terms of specifications and a priority on lower prices at the expense of quality, result in the malfunction of materials and equipment for school usage; 6) Inappropriate curriculum and learning/teaching processes which do not correspond to the needs of society in relation to its present stage of national development. Thus, school graduates are unable to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in the field of work; 7) Inadequate remuneration and welfare benefits which make teachers struggle in the present day economic situation; 8) Educational expenses per head for students at various grades in government schools are not consistent with the amount of tuition fees and educational materials per head as stipulated by the Ministry of Finance. The existing rates of tuition fees were proposed by the Ministry of Education in 1977 and have been in operation ever since without any adjustment to the fluctuations of monetary value of baht currency. Financial support from the Ministry of Education to government schools per student is therefore insufficient for proper educational management; 9) Lack of utilization plans for maximun benefits. Emphasis on building new educational institutions while enrolment expansion in existing institutions is also a practical possibility. 10) Personnel administration system has often been under the influence of political power, thereby any merit consideration and promotion task is not based on meritocracy; 11) Lack of consistent teachers training and development; 12) Too many overlapping functions amongst various units within the organization, which hinder administrative co-operation. Too many positions are being created within each department of the Ministry of Education; 13) Active community participation in educational development has not been encouraged. School administrators tend to manage their institution according to their own policies; 14) Local wisdom has not been explored to enhance teaching/learning processes due to a lack of financial support; 15) Chronic problems concerning drug usage within educational institutions; 16) Lack of clear policy and plans to put the children of those whose income is below 50,000 baht per year into vocational institutions. These youngsters will be trained to become skilled workers, thereby alleviating the problem of personnel shortages in certain enterprises. The children from poor families have therefore, an opportunity to earn higher incomes; 17) No genuine attempts to monitor and solve the problems of the schools have been made by administrators from the Ministry of Education, be it at the district, provincial or ministerial level. They tend to solve various problems from written documents without insightful practical data, while their inaccurate knowledge of rules and regulations often ironically deters any problem-solving endeavour; 18) Most of the schools have not been well maintained due to a lack of budget. Renovation is thus, urgently needed; 19) Shortages in teaching/learning materials and equipment as well as well as classrooms and laboratories; 20) No curricula which instills in learners desirable practices in relation to morality, ethics, discipline, environment protection and democracy. When the current government took office on the twenty sixth of July, 1995, its policies concerning education, religion and culture were proclaimed. Their fundamental policy is to improve the quality of education in line with economic development, while considering the expansion of compulsory education from 6 years to 9 years and eventually 12 years respectively, an urgent task. Under such a policy, it is of great importance to promote such aspects of Thai heritage as religion, ethics, morality and cultural preservation. 8. In December 1995, after relevant data on the existing problems had been studied and the goals in educational, religious and cultural administration were set, the Ministry of Education has developed the following 4 approaches in order to attain its education reform policy:- 1) School Reform 2) Teachers Reform 3) Curriculum Reform 4) Administration Reform 9. Education, by its nature, involves a great number of people. Hence, it is everyoneís duty and responsibility to take part in educational development, especially when considering the fact that schools and educational institutions of all kinds are the closest organization to students, parents and the public alike. In January 1996, an approach for school reform was laid down, stipulating that all schools under the School Reform Project aim to become an ideal school, like the one prescribed by the Ministry of Educationís 10 Commandments. This approach encourages the school administrators to create a desirable environment, with well equipped materials and adequately functional classrooms which is conducive to teaching/learning activities. Moreover, school curricula must be tailored to suit local needs while the community should be encouraged to participate in school adminstration. The problem of staff shortages must also be solved and finally, the school should prove to be of high quality and a standard which is highly acceptable to the whole community. 10. For over a year, various approaches and solutions have been put into practice in order to alleviate the aforementioned accumulated problems, some of which have turned out to be successful as targeted: 1) For the 1997 financial year, the educational budget was increased from 133 billion baht to 163 billion baht which is equivalent to a 22.5% increase from that in the 1996 financial year. The educational investment budget in particular, was raised from 18% in 1996 to 26.2% in 1997 or from 23 billion baht to 43 billion baht. During the 1997 financial year, the bulk of this budget will be spent according to the education reform policy, with the aim of upgrading school, teaching/learning materials and equipment as well as the school staff; 2) In the 1996 academic year, the curriculum has been adjusted so that English will be taught in the first grade with an emphasis on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; 3) 5,669 teachers have been appointed to replace those teachers who retired during the period 1994-1995. Based on a misconception that the cabinetís streamlined resolution is to dissolve the positions of retired teachers without any exception, the 5,669 positions were inappropriately dissolved. Inctual fact, it is possible to urge the cabinet to review this issue; 4) The cabinet approved the proposed amendment of the Teacher Civil Service Commissionís rule number 13 which permits Teacher 2 level 6 to advance to level 7 without having to submit any academic work for consideration. This amendment will come into effect on the second of October, 1996; 5) A policy to raise the standard of education in a complete cycle has been drawn up, starting from preprimary level through to primary, secondary or equivalent, to higher education, after which a new cycle will resume. Initially, the quality of primary education is to be upgraded while attempts are made to put all of the young children into school, in preparation for their first grade in the year 1997. This is the reason why the budget for educational development of the Office of the National Primary Education Commission (ONPEC) has been raised from 6.5 billion to 17 billion baht in 1997, which is the largest amount ever received by this organization; 6) While education reform has brought about unity within the Ministry of Education, thousands of individuals involved in the task of education reform over one year ago also created a comceptual diversity in concrete educational development; 7) Clear policies and practical approaches have been indentified to provide the children of 40 million poor people with 12 years of education in agricultural colleges free of charge. Under the Self-Sufficiency Agricultural Education Project, more than 10,000 ninth grade graduates from opportunity expansion schools under the jurisdiction of ONPEC, have been selected to undertake agricultural courses as boarding students. While studying in such agricultural colleges, the acquired theoretical nowledge and practical skills will enable the learners to support themselves as the surplus of agricultural produce and products will be sold in the market. Moreover, other fields such as electrical and mechanical studies, computing, accounting and marketing are also available. Every graduate from these courses must possess a driving license for tractors/backhoes and must be able to cook and use agricultural machinery at the same time. Learners are also required to undertake a territorial defense course to instill in them discipline and loyalty for king, country and religion. A graduate will also be conferred the rank of corporal. At present, there is a plan to enrol another 10,000 students for the second term in November 1996 and expand this to 100,000 students in the year 1997. This project has already been approved by the cabinet with appropriate budgetary allocations being set aside for 1996 and 1997. For the five-year-project, a budget allocation of over 7 billion baht has also been approved in principal. The Ministry of Education is confident that this project corresponds to the needs of society in relation to human development, whereby staff shortages in various occupations have been identified by the Eighth NESDP. Once a vocational certificate in agriculture is obtained, these agricultural graduates are ready to enter into the world of full time employment; 8) Clear policies concerning a budget proposal for education administration have been identified, with a 12 year-educational development plan which aims at educational excellence in the year 2007. In 1998, educational expenditure per head will be adjusted according to the Ministry of Financeís regulations:-kindergarten 2,150 baht, primary 3,000 baht, lower secondary 4,000 baht and upper secondary 4,100 baht and upper secondary 4,100 baht per head per year. In practice, however, the government only released 160 baht in 1995, 170 baht in 1996 and 270 baht in 1997 for every primary school pupil annually. In an attempt to alleviate the problem of educational spending per head, the Ministry of Education plans to raise the educational fees for civil servantsí children who are studying in government schools, in line with those specified by the Ministry of Finance on the seventh of May 1996. As such fees can be reimbursed from the government via prior agreement with the Comptroller-Generalís Department, Ministry of Finance. This approach will not pose any financial burden upon civil servants. (Please note that the current rates of educational fees for secondary education used by the Ministry of Education are in accordance with those specified for the year 1977.) Thus, in the year 1998, the Ministry of Education will urge the government to allocate an adequate budget per head; 9) There are 50% or approximately 20,000 schools under the Education Reform Project which is based on 4 approaches and the ideal schools as reflected in the ten commandments of the Ministry of Education. These schools are required to complete their school environment improvement work by December 1996 in accordance with the 4 approaches. To this end, the Ministry of Education has allocated 100,000-150,000 baht for each school to renovate its buildings, for example, with repair work and a new coat of paint as well as creating desirable school environs. Local communities should be encouraged to participate in school administration and development by means of identifying problems relating to students, teachers, parents and curricula. Such co-operation will lead to subsequent solutions. The seminar* today is intended to divide all participants into small discussion groups using the brainstorming technique in order to attain practical solutions to the accumulated problems of the Ministry of Education. Relevant recommendations are also to be presented during this seminar to assist in promoting educational reform and to focus upon attaining educational excellence by the year 2007. * The Seminar on Strategy for Education Reform on August 20, 1996 at the United Nationsí Auditorium, Bangkok, Thailand.


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Copyright ? 1997 MOENet Thailand Service
Program by Mr.Bumrung Chiablam