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Three extra burdens put on teachers in Thailand is a share in the administrative, management and financial duties that need to be completed in the department. Extra non teaching duties have been an area of concern for teachers in Thailand as well as in the UK for some time now, driving some of them overseas or even out the teaching profession.

 

 

Changes were underway in the UK eight years ago regarding English language teaching to speakers of other languages. Those who were teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) were the top level department in the college where I was working, guided by mountains of regulations; and those who were in the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) department were considered the poor relation, who basically just went about their business of teaching.

 

EFL consisted of students staying in England who paid money to sit courses leading to examinations by organisations like Cambridge. ESOL was for the benefit of refugees and asylum seekers, who needed English to survive in England whilst they waited for the British government to consider their asylum claim.

 

As I was leaving the UK, the British government decided that refugees and asylum seekers were a priority and passed legislation which required all teachers to fill out reams of paperwork to such an extent that one of my colleagues emailed me to say that she was spending 80% of her time completing administrative duties and only 20% teaching. The tables were reversed and there was a huge backlash by the affected teachers.

 

Today in Thailand, I find myself faced with the opposite problem with administrative tasks. There seems to be a very low priority on matters of administration and finance, to such a degree that I wonder if it is taken seriously at all. I have lost count the number of times I have sent emails and letters and never had an acknowledgement, let alone a reply.

 

How is someone supposed to know what is happening if there is no answer to correspondence? To be truthful, my students are the ones who seem to have their fingers on the pulse. They let me know what is happening, so that I am not completely left out the loop.

 

I appreciate that the UK and Thailand have different animals; however, waiting over a year for expenses would be excessive by anyone’s standards, especially when I used to have to do the same task myself in England and was only given a three day turn around. Still, that was the army, what would you expect?

 

The apathy and lack of responsibility that I am faced with, is constantly emphasised by being told, “Jai yen yen.” Unfortunately, this may work for Thais, but I find that I am more “Jai rawn rawn.” I do not have the patience of a saint and find it hard to understand why I am required to produce output in a flash, when a reciprocated administrative request disappears into oblivion.

 

In order for anything to run smoothly, there has to be some form of recognised administrative, management and financial understanding, so that effective communication can take place. There does not seem to be any recognised system for me to follow, at least not one that I can comprehend.

 

This understanding must involve some kind of action, taken by individuals on behalf of departments, who have accepted responsibility for what they do. Waiting for problems to go away may work for some of the situations that the Thai education system throws up; however, the more globalised Thailand becomes, with more educational joint ventures being encouraged by the government, Thailand will be found wanting.

 

In my opinion, there needs to be more focus on the administrative, management and financial duties that teachers and administrators have to undertake. Training needs to be organised as not all teachers are good administrators, bookkeepers and managers, so they will need to be trained and motivated to complete their tasks efficiently.

 

The acceptance of responsibility can be rewarded by incentives, so that the extra demands that these tasks make on our teachers does not result in the backlash that was felt in the UK when tasks like this were first introduced to unsuspecting teachers.

 

Administrative duties
 

 

The tasks of administration, management and finance need to be given the same priority as education itself if the organisation is to run smoothly.

(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 16th December 2008)

 
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