According to the Ysaan Institute, a primary reason successive Thai governments have been unable to reform the Thai education system is a failure to adequately train Thai teachers. While training initiatives have been launched in the past, real teacher training reform has in fact never happened in Thailand. Rote, authoritarian, learning continues to be the norm rather than the exception.
At most Thai schools, teachers have only been handed books on new teaching strategies—ones which have simply be translated or copied from English texts, with no thought as to how they can be adapted to the unique Thai classroom setting. When Thai teachers have actually attended workshops, they usually end up listening to complex theoretical lectures rather than acquiring the practical tools they need to become better educators.
The Ysaan Institute suggests activity-based Thai teacher training workshops that focus not only the implementation of new teaching strategies but also on the development of 10 Basic Thinking Skills: 1) Observation and Recall, 2) Comparing and Contrasting, 3) Grouping, 4) Labeling, 5) Classifying, 6) Sequencing, 7) Inferring causes/effects/
A new Thai teacher training program is recommended where Thai and foreign trainers are hired to travel their province training teachers throughout the year. It is suggested that training sessions at one school last a minimum of two weeks and include workshops followed by classroom observations. The establishment of an online Thai teacher trainer forum is also recommended, where teachers can solicit advice from trainers after they have left the school or university.
Another significant aspect of the Thailand Education Reform proposal is reforming the manner in which expat educators are treated in Thailand. According to the Ysaan Institute, most foreign (“farang”) teachers in Thailand are treated merely as token figures who rarely are involved in decisions related to curriculum development, much less awarded leadership roles. Many highly trained English teachers and foreign educators who arrive in Thailand hoping to make a positive impact end up leaving after a year or two due to a lack of equal professional opportunities.
The hurdles and obstacles that foreign educators face in Thailand is becoming increasingly well-known and hurting the recruitment of qualified educators and teacher trainers. To reform the situation, the Ysaan Institute recommends that the Thai government create an inexpensive, fast track path to permanent residency for credentialed foreign educators who make a long term commitment to Thailand and achieve intermediate skills in reading and speaking the Thai language. Equal professional opportunities and rewards for these foreign educators should also be guaranteed, as well as long term open-ended work permits.
To read the Ysaan Institute's full set of recommendations for Thailand Education Reform, please go to:
About the Ysaan Institute
Founded by LivingHour.org, the Ysaan Institute is an online learning center dedicated to teaching reform and sustainable development through education. It currently provides a Science Scholars and Life Scholars English reading program to Thai schools and universities.
Learn more at: http://moodle.livinghour.org