Home Archived News No longer a vocation
No longer a vocation Print E-mail


Recent reports in the Bangkok Post have identified that there is a teacher shortage in Thailand and that the government is to take measures to rectify this. The revival of the “Kurutayath” program is one way that the government intends to solve the problem of a lack of teachers.



However, there are some educational commentators that would suggest that this is not enough.  I am concerned that the government will have difficulty in not only recruiting enough teachers to fill the ever expanding amount of vacancies that there are, but also that the quality of the replacements will not be up to the standard required.


Who in their right mind will decide to be a teacher in a government school, when they know that they will start off with a very low salary and will have to work long hours and have extra administrative responsibilities that eat even further into their free time.


Some of my students have graduated and are about to graduate with the intention of going into business or being flight attendants. What makes matters worse is that these are the best of the bunch and that they have decided that their careers lie elsewhere.


In the days of old, it was the cream of the crop that was chosen to be teachers. Only the best would do. Now there are teachers teaching with a grade point average of 2.0, which only fuels the argument that teaching is longer considered one of the “premiere” professions.


If money were a motivating factor, there are some teachers who are earning in excess of 120,000 baht a month. These teachers have private classes in the evening which subsidises their daytime work in government schools.


However, these teachers are few and far between as they have to work in city schools in order to command that kind of money and trying to get to a prestigious school in the city involves many hurdles which I am sure will be covered in future articles. This kind of money is very difficult to earn if you are placed in a small rural school up country and some teachers are not in it for the money. 


I have never been a great fan of statistics ever since I passed an “O” level in that subject many years ago, as I always felt that it was possible to manipulate the numbers to paint a picture that best served my interests. That is why I use them so often in these articles.


When I am bombarded by numbers telling me that one month there are teacher shortages totalling 74,000 and then the next month I am told it is only 24,000 because class sizes have been increased, I start to worry as to the real numbers and how the country is going to cope.


In my opinion, increasing class sizes just hides the problem and the re introduction of the “Kurutayath” project may help in a small way; however, I don’t believe that with an extra 5000 scholarships a year, many of these teachers would want to work in small rural schools where they are needed most and will opt to find a way to the nearest city.


The government might decide to offer incentives for teachers that decide to teach in more remote communities, though I do not see what those incentives could be at this time. Obviously an area that needs further thought.


Pitsanu Tulsuk, the director of the Human Resources Development and Legal Affairs Division in the Office of the Basic Education Commission informs us that “We cannot resist the teachers’ desire to quit. The applicants suffer from health problems, are elderly or are exhausted from working hard for a long period of time.”


This is nothing new. Teachers have been taking early retirement since 2000 creating a 10,000 shortfall in the first year. Every year more teachers have been leaving than being replaced resulting in the predicament we are in today.


Somehow, the government has to reverse this trend by making the teaching profession more attractive to pre service teachers and persuading some of the business community that it would be more profitable for Thailand if they were to invest their time in teaching rather than in the pursuit of money and material items.


There is an increasing trend in the west for people in business to have a career change and become teachers. There may well be a glut of potential teachers in the employment market in the west due to the current economic climate; however, I am of the opinion that there may be some people in Thailand who could be persuaded to become teachers.


This would not in itself solve the teacher shortage; although it would amend the old adage, “those who can do and those who can’t teach,” to “those who can, have; and now they teach.”



Teaching vocation


Ms Sasicha Pawasri, a teacher at Bantatprachanukoon School in Ban Phue district, Udon Thani demonstrates the effort and hard work that goes into being a teacher at rural schools.   

(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 18th November 2008)

steves-english-zone.com, Powered by Joomla! and designed by SiteGround web hosting