‘Implement all aspects’ of educational reform


The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) said yesterday that all five aspects of the national education reform strategy should be implemented at the same time rather than just focusing on curriculum reform and reducing study time.

The problems with the Thai education system stem from the inefficient use of resources, TDRI president Somkiat Tangkitvanich told a seminar yesterday. He said the Education Ministry’s budget had doubled in the past decade and the salary of public schoolteachers with a bachelor’s degree had risen from Bt15,000 in 2001 to Bt24,000-Bt25,000 in 2010, yet students’ test results in local and international arenas were worsening.

In order to overcome this, The reform system should include making schools accountable for the quality of education provided; granting schools administrative freedom so they can hire proper personnel; allowing parents to choose schools based on their quality; reforming curriculum and teaching standards in the 21st century context; boosting education quality by allocating more funds and establishing an assistance system for schools with economic and social problems.

TDRI researchers suggested that educational reform should go hand-in-hand with the following five aspects, which should be implemented over three years starting from this year:

Changing the curriculum, teaching materials and technology:

Boosting skills in line with the 21st century should be the main goal, and content as well as qualifications should be adjusted accordingly.

The new curriculum should be concise, well-thought out and integrated so it emphasises the subject’s key ideas, allows project-based learning, teamwork, promotes the use of IT resources and students’ advance-learning skills. The curriculum should be flexible so schools can adjust it to their context. They should also cut down on classroom time, use a wider variety of teaching methods and learning approaches such as constructivism and connectivism.

  • Reforming performance assessment:

A literacy-based test system should be developed to replace the Ordinary National Educational Test and other tests. The tests should be written by experts and must integrate several subjects. Also, teachers and schools should be simultaneously assessed to boost accountability. This way, problematic schools can be helped. Academic performance results should be revealed to public and added to the government’s database, so parents can use this data to choose schools.

  • Reforming the system of developing quality teachers:

Instead of hiring teachers, the government should focus more on quality control and knowledge management. It should allow schools to manage their operations with sufficient budget and power to make decisions about their curriculum and teachers. There should also be an emphasis on turning knowledge into action, boosting teachers’ skills and promoting a professional learning community. Also, pay raises should be based on students’ development and their test results, so teachers will become more responsible about the quality of students they turn out. Paperwork should be cut down so teachers can focus more on teaching. Also, teachers should be promoted every five years on the basis of observation and documented results.

  • Assessing educational institutes’ quality:

Results should mainly be based on schools’ internal assessment, while the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment should set the criteria necessary for proper quality control.

  • Reforming the financial system:

Instead of providing long-term funding, schools should instead be granted a per-head subsidy so they become more accountable to students. The allocation of budgets should also require a minimum average test score. More funds should be provided to poorer schools.

First published in The Nation website, 21 March 2013