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Lack of qualified teachers Print E-mail


Periodically, we are informed by the press that the reason why Thailand’s education system is failing is due to the lack of quality teachers. Several initiates outlined by Jurin Laksanavisit, the Minister of Education are in place to improve our teachers’ teaching skills, but will they work? Only time will tell.


We have been informed repeatedly in the press, that the government’s five year bachelor programme is the answer to our educational woes; however, in my opinion, there needs to be more action to combat our worsening situation.


The programme itself is a good idea; however, it masks the fact that while the students are spending one year as trainee teachers teaching in schools before they graduate, the vacancy that they are taking is wiped off the statistical chart. I believe that the shortfall in teachers is much higher than is normally publicised.


Recent figures put the shortage at 100,000. This figure is particularly alarming if you consider that there are an estimated 500,000 teachers, administrators and managers in the system. The shortfall in teachers results in additional work for the teachers in the system as well as the added administration duties that are required due to the government’s past refusal to hire more administrative staff.


A new programme has given university seniors who would otherwise not have contemplated being teachers, the opportunity to partake in an extra year’s study in order to become a government teacher.


Those that take up the offer will be offered lifelong jobs as civil servants and will not be required to sit the civil service examination. Whether this will attract the calibre of individual needed to be a teacher in Thailand’s burdening education sector is not proven; however, something has to be done to attract the right people into the teaching profession where otherwise they would have moved into business or another occupation.   


It is the government’s aim to retrain almost all of Thailand’s 500,000 educators to use modern methods by the end of 2010. If this were to happen, then we would be going a long way to improving our education system; however, it has been ten years since the 1999 Education Act which laid down the requirements and direction that Thailand needs to travel and to be truthful, we’re nowhere near yet.


In fact we are a long way off the mark, so it seems unrealistic to think that half a million teachers, managers and administrators would be able to be retrained and to use that training by the end of next year. I hope I am wrong!


Whilst the government admits that the use of technology will not replace qualified and dedicated teachers, I believe that too much emphasis has been put on the satellite technology that will beam training into the classrooms. I am in the process of looking at some of these lessons and being realistic, the English language used is of too high a level for the majority of rural teachers to understand.


There are also 35,100 positions for candidates over the next nine years who will be assigned to teach where they are most needed. These candidates will be especially trained in student centred instructional methods and modern skills of pedagogy. Why only 35,100 teachers, why not all of them? In addition, we are also informed that these candidates will be offered, “exceptional incentives” although an increase in salary is not one of them.



Qualified teachers


Dedicated teachers like Pranee Boonsaeng of Bantatprachanukoon School in Ban Phue district Udon Thani wonder how new government initiatives will affect her classroom teaching in the future.
(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 20th October 2009)



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