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Education, but at a price Print E-mail

 

Unfortunately, some parents and students believe that once they have paid their tuition fees, their degree follows as a matter of course. Now, they are finding out that it takes more than money to earn a degree at Thailand's tertiary / higher educational establishments such as vocational colleges and universities.

 

 

There are some teachers who believe that they are doing their students a favour by allowing them to pass their examinations when in fact they have not met the grade. This causes many problems for students as well as teachers.

 

Students that are allowed to progress, even though they are not good enough will struggle to achieve at the next grade; unless, of course, they are allowed to pass once again. This is the start of a vicious circle where students keep on passing their examinations until they are confronted by a teacher who does not play by the same set of rules.

 

All of a sudden, the student does not achieve and questions are asked. At first, the teacher who has failed the student is normally held accountable; however, the keeping of good student records will protect that teacher from any unwarranted attention.

 

If students are allowed to pass, when in fact they should fail, then the next teacher that receives this student has an added burden in their class because this student is not at the same level as the others, resulting in more work for the receiving teacher.

 

If this course of action is allowed to continue through primary and secondary school, the student will have severe difficulties when they attend university and are confronted by teachers who will not pass students if they fail to make the grade.

 

In my opinion, I believe that there are some students with very poor education who have never failed anything in their lives. This gives a very distorted and untrue outlook on life, for once they have left the relative comfort of their universities to venture out into the wider world, they will find that it is not such a beautiful place.

 

Not all the streets are paved with gold, Bangkok is not the center of the universe and yes, businesses do fail; quite a lot of them actually. There are some students in rural areas that have no idea as to what is waiting for them once they have graduated.

 

The graduation process is seen by some as a natural right of passage. The money is paid (eventually) every semester, the students attend some classes and at the end of four years, there is a lavish ceremony.

 

Unfortunately for the parents and students who think like that, more and more foreigners are working in rural areas, for a variety of reasons, normally because of the quality of life and they have become mortified by the high expectations and low work output of the students concerned.

 

For me, the writing was on the wall when Udon Thani Rajabhat University stopped the requirement for entrance examinations. Since then it has been evident that the education levels of the students had deteriorated.

 

On its own, that is not a problem. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to study education at a higher level; however, I don’t believe that everyone has the right to pass. They must earn that right by dint of hard work.

 

I feel that earning the right to pass makes it all worthwhile; unfortunately, I also think that this has been missed by many in Thailand. Surely that feeling of pride and justification that follows hard work and real achievement is something to strive for?

 

It’s not quite something for nothing; however, I am sure that there are some who believe that once the course fee has been paid, it’s a guarantee that some form of warped success will follow. In my opinion, it is a type of hollow victory, with no feeling or worth.

 

When students thank me for their grade (yes, it does happen occasionally), I always inform them that they have nothing to thank me for. I didn’t do the work, they did. I tell them that they embarrassed me into giving them the grade as there was nothing else I could do. They met all the requirements.  

 

I always laugh when I see the sales signs in the shopping centres informing the shoppers that items are 70%. As I don’t do a lot of shopping, I don’t really understand what it means. Is it 70% off or is it 30% off?

 

Everyone is looking for a bargain; however, education is not the same as shopping for clothes or shoes. It is already stretched financially and if there are discounts or shortcuts then obviously quality and standards will drop.

 

We should not allow our education standards to drop due to short sighted kindness or cost cutting measures. Education should be made available to everyone; however, not everyone has the ability to pass. Some students have to work harder than others to achieve their grades, whilst others find it easy to pass their examinations.

 

Both sets of students deserve to pass; however, if students who have been measured and been found wanting are allowed to progress through the education system, it will spell trouble for subsequent teachers and for the students themselves

 

 

Education, but at a price
 

 

Sam Graham completing the first stage of his education.

(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 09th December 2008)

 
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