Well dear readers I think it is time for another letter in relation to Asean, The Thai Education System and the fact that Thailand (in my opinion) is heading for a huge disaster upon the arrival of the Asean Community and all that it is supposed to bring to Thailand.
Well my dear Thailand as much as I love you I don't think Asean is going to be the all bells and whistles that you hope it will be. In fact I think what Thailand and Laos are going to end up being is the much needed labour pool for the rest of the world. Thailand is going to be the isolated non-English speaking island on this big round thing we call the earth.
In other words Thailand and in particular the MOE and all the misguided personnel in the MOE you really do need to get your act together.
Teachers, yes you need teachers and you need them badly so lets see what is your response to that. Make things difficult in fact make things so difficult more and more good quality teachers are leaving by the day because they are sick and tired of wasting their time, money and goodwill trying to satisfy some jobs worth in the MOE who thinks that what Thailand's education system needs is more rules for foreign teachers. What Thailands education system needs is more action inthe following areas.
A much more sensible term system I would suggest a three term system similar to the UK, Europe and the US.
A lot more control of what text books are used in the schools. If you are going to allow a Thai owned company to produce English educational material then the time has come for you to introduce a law that requires said companies to employ a QUALIFIED English speaker to proof read and stop all the errors going to print. Believe me there are thousands of them out there just pick up any book used in the Thai English classes and see how many you can find.
By the same token the MOE needs to employ westerners to help with the English program and tests that get generated from within the MOE, again there are far too many mistakes and, to be honest, completely pointless parts of tests that come out of there.
Thai English teachers need to do their degrees with a professor who actually understands English grammar. The proficiency of a lot of Thai teachers in relation to English is not good.
The last thing that should get cancelled during a school day is English class it is far more important than any Thai school realizes.
Now for the more difficult things:
At least one Native English Speaker at every school. I say one minimum to take into account all the smaller schools that exist up and down the roads everywhere.
More emphasis on the quality of the NES teachers rather than the paperwork, it's nice to have a degree but there are many good teachers with brains and the intellect that can take a TESOL course and are more than capable of a valuable contribution to the cause in Thailand. Thailand needs teachers badly and you won't get enough qualified teachers to come here for the pay your expecting to give them.
Which brings us on to proper contracts, maybe a little less money getting pocketed by the agencies and more incentive for schools to employ teachers direct, a little less pratting around with excessive quadruple copies of copies of copies of pieces of paper that were copied then sent then copied then lost then copied again by which time the teacher thinks whats the point and the school thinks what do we do.
These are just a few of the things that will be important to Thailand. When should they get put into action? Well, personally I would say at least three years ago but better late than never why not make an effort now.
One thing I can say for a certainty to Thailand and that is when you call someone abroad to do business with them you can count on this.
The person who answers the phone in Singapore, Cambodia, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Canada, Hawaii, Brazil, Chile, Norway, Sweden, in fact any country in the world. That person will more than likely speak ENGLISH the one language they will NOT speak is Thai. So, the one thing Thailand needs to decide. Is is going to make the effort to learn the universal language that will improve its standing in the world, or will Thailand continue to be a overly proud nation and miss out of the chance to take a chunk of the action and consign it's citizens to being nothing more than a labour force for the rest of the world.
There is nothing wrong with being proud but you need to be proud and sensible. You need English teachers a lot more than they need you. Embrace them and try and keep them, don't resent them and turn them away.
I hope above all that Thailand makes and attempt to join the 21st century and stop living 50 years in the past. Come on Thailand you can do it, come and join us, come and be part of the global economy.
We await your decision.