TCT letter stirs up teachers

TCT letter stirs up teachers

A letter from the Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT) recently circulated social media, causing quite a stir among Thailand’s foreign teacher community.

In basic terms, it states that foreigners applying for their teaching permit, must ask their university to send a degree verification letter on official paper, with an official seal enclosed in an official envelope direct to the TCT’s office. The letter must clearly confirm that applicants have successfully completed their degree. Sounds like a standard transcript, right? Whether it is or not, the letter is indicative of the TCT’s capricious nature.

One comment on the Thailand Teaching forum read, “Yet another policy that is not officially published on the website or communicated to teachers in any way; we are left to discover it by accidental misfortune.”

That’s one of the more level-headed comments we read and before anyone could suggest we all keep calm and pass the somtam, foreign teachers all over the internet were doing their best Chicken Little impersonations.

“If they want to lose all the legit teachers, that’s the way to do it.” posted one member of Facebook’s ESL Teachers in Thailand group.

Another replied soon after, “Good luck to Thailand because there won’t be any teachers left in the country within a couple of months.”

Perhaps most reactionary comments is typified here, “I can’t help but get the impression that the [TCT] isn’t particularly happy with the idea of foreign teachers in Thailand.”

Back to the land of reason and rationale, many comments mentioned legitimate pitfalls, “Sending directly to the (TCT) seems like a recipe for lost mail and no one being held accountable when the paperwork fails, causing chaos for teachers and schools.”

Another good point relates to documents not written in English, “A verification letter from a German, French or Italian uni would need to be translated, which is difficult to do through a sealed envelope!”

Still another good point relates to schools’ name changes, ““My university has a different name so I don’t know how this would work. The headed paper and seal would be of a different name to that on my certificate!”

While some claim the sky is falling, others (including the author of this article) fully expect this regulation to disappear as quietly and quickly as it started. Any foreigner teacher who’s worked in Thailand for a few years knows how routinely regulations come and go. How do we know?

First, since 2006 the TCT’s Thai Culture, Ethics and Language Course (a requirement for all foreigners) has started and stopped more times than we can remember. The TCT’s Professional Knowledge Tests are currently in limbo, despite hundreds of teachers spending tens of thousands of baht to pass them. And as recently as last August, the head of immigration was sidelined just after he announced that his department would adhere to its own directives and stop allowing back-to-back entries on tourist visas.

If past behaviour is an indicator of future behaviour, it seems reasonable to expect that the TCT will see the error of its ways, or at least be forced to do so and accept transcripts in place of these verification letters. Let’s just hope that happens before the pot stirrers gain any more unfounded momentum

Eric Haeg

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