I would like to chip into this debate and just put down a few of the thoughts I have in writing.
Surely there must be the element in institutions where English is taught for profit in Thailand, that they want to adorn their business prospectus with a young and handsome or beautiful white face. Look at advertising material from the British Council, the websites for schools in Western countries on the net, and even the most popular commercial EFL textbooks. Plenty of such faces feature there as well. Even if they are not white, they are still usually young and beautiful. It is standard practice because beauty appeals to the eye of the beholder, and because beauty thus sells.
There is surely the element too that these education-for-profit institutions care not for the actual quality of education they provide, or that it at least plays second fiddle to looking good. And look, particularly in Thailand, is still very much the state that society is in. If true substance counted for much there would have to be a major social upheaval – because their owners and operators probably do not know anything about what constitutes quality education (again, Thailand all over) They are fixated with getting bums on seats. So yeah, who would not want to complain about this. There is definitely injustice afoot. For sure, they would pass over someone who was a native-born citizen of an English speaking country and an excellent teacher on the grounds of their appearance, in much the same way as they are going to rob mums and dads blind, and milk kids like cows by opening candy shops at the front of the school.
On the other hand, the law of averages dictates that there is some advantage in going for the young white person. Which is something we do not hear a lot about. Scientific enlightenment – some famous scientific wit, I cannot recall who, called enlightenment, or, as Jared Diamond puts it, ‘the shift from speculation to rationalisation’, that ‘little thing that happened a couple of hundred years ago that a lot of people have not heard much about’, or words to that effect, 55 - has brought about profound change in Western society, not least in terms of the quality of education. This change for the good, in terms of knowledge, at least, has accelerated since the advent of the information age. You pick white, and you pick young, and you are, if fathoming other indicators of teacher quality is beyond you, in a way maximising your chances of picking someone who is a native speaker of English who has a modern Western education.
This is surely what the parents of Thailand are thinking when they discriminate in this way. Not all the people who cry ‘racism’ and ‘ageism’ are being entirely reasonable themselves, are they, the cynic in me demands the concept be at least lent a little consideration. In regards to the ‘ageism’ thing in particular, yeah, the term was coined originally to describe how employable people can dip out on getting a job because of their age – but in all fairness to young people (and I am 40, if you wonder), does not discrimination on the basis of age for the most part work the other way in society? And is there not great injustice afoot when you think of all the people who were not life-long learners, and who are representative of pre-information age and far more ignorant times – who are steeped in the mores of more primitive states of society – who stand over young, well educated people, and perpetually find fault with them to bolster their own very, very false feelings of superiority? As if it does not happen! It is a central pillar of primitive human society that ‘age is wisdom’…
Finally here, there is the element too that Thai people are racist. Black is bad, to not possess the physiology of the ruling class is bad. The mould you were born in in many ways dictates your quality in society, rather than the nature of your intelligence (what you have learned). Again, they are in that state of society where to even consider the injustice of this is to ‘kid leuk’, or think deeply, and by association with this term in the Thai mind think too much, and be in need of a good cup of hemlock. For most people, of course, not all, just as it is in the West. They are light years away from actually creating and, more to the point, enforcing policy that is going to shake people out of their stupor. So this is definitely unfair as well. No wonder the victims complain.