Thai children spend long hours in school. In fact, their school hours are among the longest in the world. But is all that classroom learning actually worth it in the real world?
- The poor quality of Thailand’s education system, particularly in terms of applying knowledge to real-life situations, is rooted in the outdated curriculum that has not significantly changed in the past two decades.
- To improve students’ abilities and foster all-rounded competencies, the education system should focus on building a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, rather than solely emphasizing one aspect.
- Overcoming the challenges of curriculum reform requires collaborative efforts, open dialogue, and prioritizing students’ interests, while also managing the political and economic interests of relevant groups to avoid obstacles.
Thai children spend long hours in school, but the quality of their education is poor. A study showed that over half of 15-year-olds in Thailand struggle to apply math and science concepts to everyday problems. The main problem lies in the curriculum, which has not changed significantly in the past 22 years.
The curriculum fails to develop well-rounded competencies and does not prioritize skills needed in today’s fast-changing world, such as analytical and creative thinking. Attempts to reform the curriculum have been met with resistance from teachers and other stakeholders. The education minister must prioritize curriculum reform to improve the education system and ensure students are prepared for the future.
The Education Ministry gets the biggest share of Thailand’s national budget every year. The education system certainly needs an overhaul if what students learn in school is not applicable to real life.
This is the challenge that Pol Gen Permpool Chidchob, the new education minister, must resolve.
The poor quality of Thai school learning was brought to light five years ago by the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It showed that half of Thailand’s 15-year-olds, precisely 52.7%, struggled to apply the mathematics they learned in school to solve everyday problems. That was not all. Nearly 44.5% could not explain common natural phenomena using scientific principles.
These figures are significantly higher than the OECD average of 24% for mathematical application and 22% for scientific explanation.
Alarmingly, this poor performance has not changed much in the past two decades, sparking a crucial question about the quality of Thailand’s education system.
Writer : Nattawut Permjit is a researcher at Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)
First Publish: On Bangkok Post 13 September 2023