Next year my son will be starting school but I have many concerns about the Thai education system. I worked as a teacher here for seven years in a number of schools and have seen what goes on firsthand. I can’t afford the high prices of the international schools, but even they attract the occasional bad press from disgruntled parents. We recently moved house to an area on the outskirts of Bangkok where there are affordable private schools. We have found one that seems promising; although I still worry though about what type of education he will get here.
My comments here are from my personal experience and not meant to insult anyone. I know that there are some good things about the Thai education system; I also know that there are some excellent Thai and foreign teachers. The following is just the views of a concerned parent who wants to do the best for his son.
Why I Worry about the Thai Education System
My main worry is the fact that the Thai education system does not seem to value quality; instead it seems dedicated to decoration and keeping people happy. For instance, the school where I last worked insisted that all students be given at least 70% no matter how badly the students performed. From talking to other teachers over the years I know that this type of unfair marking is widespread. This is not just the schools at fault; parents who pay for private education will move their child elsewhere if they don’t get good marks in exams. In the government schools the teacher is viewed as a failure if all their students don’t get great marks – so they just give top marks without merit. Another worry is that cheating is rampant in Thai schools; something I’ve discussed here.
The people who suffer most are the good students and caring teachers. The ones who work their asses off for nothing; believe me there are quite a few of these. Thai kids are in no way dumb; they are just sometimes being failed by a flawed system that is showing no real signs of improving. There is no recognition that a percentage of students doing less well than others is a sign that the system is working and has merit. Not every student can be getting top marks in every subject – that is just silly and demeans the whole system.
The Thai education system is not all bad of course. The students are among the best in the world, and if given the chance more of these young people could do amazing things. The ones who do go on to do great things at the moment seem to manage it despite the system and not because of it. The people of Thailand are not unaware of the problem either; some fine students are just as baffled and disillusioned.
I am sure that there are some schools in Thailand that get it right. The problem is that it only takes a few to tarnish the rest. That is just the way it is. When too many people are getting 70% it makes that mark mean practically nothing. When no attempt is made to control cheating it makes all marks mean less.
My Son’s Future in the Thai Education System
So I’m worried about my son’s future here in Thailand. The obvious answer would be to take him away from Thailand altogether. I don’t want to do this though; this is his home. I also feel that Thailand has so many other great things going it its favour in regards to raising children – no place is perfect. I can also see that there are flaws in the education systems elsewhere in the world; the system in my own country is far from perfect. Some children do manage to thrive in the Thailand education system and I just hope that my son is one of them.
What do you think?