Opinion: National Ed Expo and the new Education Act

Last updated: Sep 2, 2019  |  188 Views  |  สิทธิในการศึกษา

The National Ed Expo: Rally for Better Quality of Education took place on 26-27 August 2019 at the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam, Bangkok. The two-day event organised by the Office of the Education Council displayed informative exhibits and brought together academics, educators, policy makers and stakeholders from around the country.


An array of topics were discussed, like a national education reform that touches on many policies and laws, from Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy, the National Economic and Social Development Plan, to the new National Education Act, of which the draft is being reviewed and presented for public opinion before it enters the legislative procedure. Also brought up for debate was the issue of disparity and inequality in education, the 2018 National Education Standards – approved by the cabinet on 2 October 2018 – and the teaching of coding as a third language in schools.


We would like to commend those who are working and devoting their best efforts to improve the Thai education system. Being part of the discussions of academics, educators and other stakeholders, we saw that every group wishes to make Thailand’s human resource development rival that of other countries, and make the education system more decentralised, empowering schools, communities and local authorities to manage local schools more independently while respecting and prioritising pupils’ diversity. The fact that these goalposts are established in the new National Education Act draft shows that Thailand’s education law is by no means moving backwards, but slowly advancing and redistributing power and ownership to the people.


The worrying concern – and something that the participants should reflect on after this – is perhaps the understanding, interpretation and actual practice of these ambitions. Because even though the current National Education Act does support decentralised education management, the reality we have seen paints a complex picture. Policy implementation has proven rocky in practice. Resource allocation, for instance, remains unequal and innovative classroom teaching has been overlooked. It is, then, vital that the government works to ensure equality and equity in education management, especially when Thailand has adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals alongside other member states of the United Nations. 2030 is critically a little over 10 years away.


Education is a chronic condition that Thailand has long endured and no cabinet has been able to prescribe the right remedy for, much less cure successfully. Each administration would implement their brand-new policy, rendering more than 300,000 teachers a variable in an experiment while more than 6 million children the human guinea pigs. When a proposed antidote does not work, a new one is concocted. The cycle continues.

 




Our hope is to see policy makers, adults with decision-making powers, see the center their work on children and respect their human rights and dignity. And these children are not only those in urban areas but also more than 1.2 million of their peers in rural small schools. The adults need to take into account the latter’s varying social, cultural and economic contexts. If at the heart of education is the full development of the human personality that will go on to drive the future of the country, we must not neglect equal and equitable access to it in the first place. We, as a society, must not fail to question public education policies. Are our government’s efforts just and for the benefit of all people?


For that reason, the National Education Act draft is not merely a new education law waiting to pass but an essential framework for the future of Thailand, one of which we are all stakeholders. It is important that we understand what and where it will lead to and voice our opinions. Because sooner or later, its impact will reach us, directly or otherwise.  


Read the draft of the new National Education Act and give your opinion at the following links.


National Education Act draft ➡️ http://bit.ly/2zvqlhy 

Opinion form ➡️ http://bit.ly/34cml3B

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