Education for Liberation of Siam urge junta to reconsider education reform

Open Letter 1/2014
Education for Liberation of Siam
 
16 September 2014
 
Dear General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Prime Minister of Thailand, the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, the Chairman of the Board of Investment, the Chairman of the Joint Private-Public Standing Committee, the Chairman of the National Energy Policy Committee, the Chairman of the State Enterprise Policy Committee, the Chairman of the Policy Committee on Special Economic Zone Development,the Chairman of the Transport Infrastructure Advisory Committee of the National Council for Peace and Order, the Chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Committee, the Chairman of the the National Environmental Board, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television, and the Chairman of the National Police Policy Committee:
 
Subject: a statement and proposals regarding the Thai education reform under the military junta
 
Amid the ongoing efforts to reform Thailand, the decade-long poor ranking of Thai education reflects the need for reform of education. All sectors in Thai society will certainly anticipate the next move of the government, as the education system is the basis of economy and politics. A quality education system will pave the way for development. On the other hand, an inefficient education system will inevitably hinder progress of the nation.
We, the Education for Liberation of Siam, recognize your attempt to reform the country, according to your speech on the “Returning Happiness to People in the Country” Friday evening television program on 13 June 2014, which goes:
“The whole education system must be developed and concentrated on strengthening the pride of Thai history, discipline, morality, ethics, the national interest, and both rights and duties as citizens. The organizations of education must focus on learners.
I have assigned the Ministry of Education to proceed with student-centered development plans, as well as to enhance teacher qualities, rather than to improve ineffective teaching material. Today, we must measure the quality of Thai students. We must emphasize quality over quantity.”
Nonetheless, we believe that the best way to reform education is to include contributions of students who are directly affected by the policy. The past failed education reforms all lacked students’ participation and they only aimed at adjusting the curricula, but not teaching and evaluation methods. Furthermore, the underlying philosophy of education that stresses authoritarianism and causes hindrance to the critical thinking of students still endures. After decades of authoritarian schooling, the “learner-centered” discourse only exists in documents but is impossible in practice.
We truly believe that the effective education reform must be based on a bottom-up or decentralized approach, not a top-down practice. Voices of students must be heard and taken into account. Reforms by a small group of executives will never be able to thoroughly address the problem of failure in education system. Therefore, to speak for Thai students, we have attached our proposals on the education reform which were compiled from comments of students from several schools who have long been ignored in the past process of education reforms. We truly hope that our information will prove fruitful for the development of Thai education to some extent.
For your consideration.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
 
(Nattanan Warintarawet)
Secretary-General
Education for Liberation of Siam