A well regarded school, a school with a beautifully rich history, is now perceived as something else. Asked about the school’s services, a Thai faculty member, who asked not to be named said, “most of what is happening now is all for show.” The school has recently undergone an addition to the roof of one building where the new English Program will be housed. What is lacking are nearby bathroom facilities. Currently the closest toilet is more than 100 meters away. When asked about this apparent oversight, one Assistant Director said, “...[the students] can use the other bathroom.” The use of this already overused bathroom clearly represents serious deficiencies in the schools respect for feminine hygiene and it gives evidence of the growing administrative problems at the school. Certainly a far cry from the vision of the school’s founder.
For this question and a myriad of others; the current students, their parents and of course the alumni are owed credible answers. This will require accountability. There is a pattern emerging; what can only be called “cotton and wool thinking.” This pattern is mystifying at best and at times almost comic. What has become clear to my colleagues and me is that there is nothing funny about what school officials are doing to the students who are all that stand between the school’s greatness and its downfall.
This is not an effort to describe the tough working conditions at this school. It is about the assault on basic educational principles and its impact on the students who stand as a bright spot in a school not at all like it once was. I am confused by this because it is an institution that has always stood as a well regarded school in Thailand, attracting some of the very best. Young students who hope to attend do so because they want to learn. You can see it in their faces and in the size and number of their school bags. It is unforgivable to see these students being relegated to irrelevancy for the sake of saving money on a bathroom!
In addition to the lavatory woes, the coming school year will see some major changes in the way that foreign faculty members are managed and hired. The Director and her staff have made an arrangement whereby native english speaking faculty members will be hired at bargain-counter prices while the parents will continue to pay the standard rate. The glowing question is: who will benefit from hiring sub-par teachers at bought-for-a-song prices? I should but will not (against my better judgement), point fingers; there are just too many fingers to point. However, the wisdom of hiring an entire group of new “teachers” while making redundant the professionals who are dedicated to their students, smells of a corrupted agenda.
As it is, the school receives up to 50,000 Baht per month or more for Intensive English teachers and will now pay the new teachers only 32,000 Baht. The latter figure might work well with a conversation teacher - MIGHT! Can we be sure that these teachers, who are required to instruct students in reading, writing, and grammar, will provide a valuable education? Will these individuals even be credentialed?
There is also the issue that most of the native English speaking faculty members did not receive their government mandated social security benefits until the 29th of March; nearly one full year after the beginning of their employment. This glaring discrepancy causes me to ponder what the school has done with those monies it has withheld. And what does it say about an employer that does not value and protect employee rights? Is setting a tone of willful disrespect and utter contempt for the law beneficial to anyone?
What do we hope for our future? Something as ambiguously important as ensuring the honorability of an honorable school is an ideal we should all hope for. The reputation of our schools and the students who attend them is paramount in preserving the dignity of a Public Education which is seemingly falling apart at the seams. I ask parents to never avoid getting involved in their children’s education and for students to take a stand against living in a House of Indignation. Goodbye and good luck.