Thanks for stopping by this month, and reading my article. The last month has been a busy one for myself and many other teachers I have met. There have been many conferences hosted by The Ministry.
If you are new to my articles, just a quick overview of what I hope to achieve: basically, I am just trying to be an information clearing house for any and all information that (I feel) might be of some use to anyone teaching in Thailand. If there is a specific issue any of you would like me to look into, let me know. I'll do my best to find the info for you and post it here. If I can't find out, I'll let you know. If there are any questions you have, let me know. I am not an expert in any given field. I am just someone who has several years experience dealing with the academic, administrative, legal, and social aspects of teaching here. Of course, if there are any helpful tidbits of information that you think other people might want to know or could benefit from, I can always put them here for you and everyone else. Not everyone uses, is familiar with, or wants to utilize ajarnforum. So maybe this can be a source of info for the people who don't, although I highly recommend the ajarnforum for anyone who is not yet a user. It can be a treasure trove of helpful info, once you become familiar with it, and know how to look for helpful information.
First off, I'd like to correct a mistake in my last month's article.
Last month I wrote that the 1 year Graduate Diploma in Teacher Education at Assumption University (www.education.au.edu/programs.html) costs 60,000 Baht. The correct price (as of August 11th, 2008) is 144,300 Baht. Thanks to many readers, both emailers and on ajarnforum, for pointing that out.
Also, a poster on ajarnforum sent me an email and told me that those of you who are near Khon Kaen might be able to go to immigration in the airport there. I, like many, always thought that there was no immigration office in Khon Kaen. Apparently, there is one in the airport. Anyway, the principal of his school called Khon Kaen Immigration and asked if they could process one of his teacher's visas, so that the teacher would not have to go to another immigration office. It worked for him, see if it works for you.
Last month, I wrote that I was going to meet The Secretary General of The Teacher's Council of Thailand and that I would post an online letter to him, that any one who wished, could sign online. A new President of The TCT has been named, but not yet a new Secretary General. Some contacts of mine in the TCT have told me that a new Sec. Gen. should be in place by mid-September, so myself and a few other concerned private citizens, school owners and/or administrators have an appointment with The President and The Sec. Gen once that person has been named. I don't know if it will accomplish much of anything, but we'll wait and see. Right now, we're in a holding pattern. It's not like we're trying to solve the Middle East Crisis, I know, but please hang in there; change takes time and happens incrementally.
After asking those same contacts at The TCT and a few others in The MOE if they thought there might be an adverse reaction to me posting an online open letter (petition) to The TCT, they replied that, yes, there might be. They reminded me of the website "Thai School Watch" and how it was basically shut down due to extreme displeasure (on the part of many high-up people at The MOE) concerning many things written there. So in an effort to spare ajarn.com any (potential) animosity or friction from The TCT or The MOE, I decided NOT to publish the online letter. However, if there are any of you who would like a copy of the document I intend to use in my meeting with them, email me and I will be more than happy to send you a copy. You can then add any ideas of your own to it, if you like, even adding your name if you wish.
I received several emails asking if I know when the next 4-part TCT test is going to take place. The tests are going to be held on Saturday October 3rd and Sunday October 4th, 2008. You can register, online, from August 14th until September 4th. You can also register in person at The Teacher's Council. Go to foreprof.ksp.or.th/index.asp and click on the blue link, at the bottom, that says "Click Here". For those of you who do not meet the official qualifications required by The TCT, there is a "Temporary Permission To Teach Without A Teacher's License" that you can get. In Thai it is called a "Bai Pawn Pun".
It will explain, to them, what they need to type and who they need to send it to. Depending on whom you ask, they are either very strict in handing them out or are giving them out like candy, down at The TCT. The Principal of your school needs to sign an official letter, asking The TCT to issue you one. Maybe it will work, maybe not. Good luck. Also on the subject of people who don't meet the official criterion, I received a few emails from people which went something like this (I'm paraphrasing here)...
My name is _______ and I have been teaching in Thailand for 12 years. I have a Bachelors in "Something Other Than Education" and a TEFL Cert. from _________ and a PGCE from _____________. Can I qualify as someone with a Bachelor in Ed. (due to my extensive experience and other quals.) and bypass all of these rules?"
I called The TCT and read a few examples to them. They said that, basically, if any teacher does not meet the strict, official requirements but feels that they might have other qualifications that should entitle them to a teacher's license, they need to go to The TCT themselves. So, if you are one of these teachers, take ALL of your paperwork, qualifications, etc. to The TCT and state your case. Be sure to take originals and copies of all documents. If they agree with you, they'll issue you a teaching license. They said that, like everything else in Thailand, the rules are not "set in stone". They can be bent a little on a case by case basis if the TCT thinks you qualify.
One place that might help some of you is The Ramkamhaeng University International Program. They have both a Teacher's Professional Licensing Course and a Masters Degree in Education, both in English. You can check out the details at www.iis.ru.ac.th/English_Program/Teacher_Qualification/teacher_qualification.htm I also had a few questions about correct, legal rates of taxation. For example, I had one email from a Filipino teacher in which she told me that her pre-tax monthly salary is 30,000 and her employing school takes out 15,000 Baht per month in taxes. Obviously, she's getting robbed. I have included, as an attachment, the correct, legal income tax deduction rates below. If you download the English version, you only need to pay attention the two columns on the left, in light blue. If you download the full, original, Thai version, there will be a lot more helpful info that I just don't have the time to translate for you. Sorry. Please keep in mind that all of these deductions DO NOT take into account any allowable deductions like child rearing costs, costs of caring for a senior citizen, life insurance/providence fund profit dividend deductions, etc. The figures are based ONLY on salary alone. Hope it helps. My sources are my own licensed accountant and The Royal Thai Office of Revenue and Taxation. The info should be correct as of 8/11/08.
Finally, I would like to tell everyone about one of the departments in The Ministry of Education that (I think) are doing a great job with few resources. Their name is The English Language Institute (E.L.I.) They are responsible for all English language instruction, in public schools, at the primary and secondary levels. They were only given this responsibility a year and a half ago and only have a staff of 17 people! Think about trying to improve all English language instruction, from 1st through 12th grade, nationwide, with 17 people. (This includes all conversational English in normal Thai curriculums AND English Programs.) In the last month alone they have organized two academic conferences to help foreign teachers in Thailand. The first one was in late July. It brought together many teachers and administrators from The Central Region to help revise and improve the National Curriculum. The current National Curriculum has already been re-written and is in the process of being translated into English. If all goes according to plan it will be in public schools in 2010 or sooner. This way foreign teachers can finally have an English language National Curriculum to use in writing their lesson plans, course descriptions, and to know what they do or do not have to teach.
The second conference just ended yesterday. It was all about various teaching methodologies and theories, especially for TESL and TEFL. Many of us who have been teaching and/or administrating for many years were already aware of many of the concepts. But many teachers there were new to teaching and new to Thailand so it helped them. At least The ELI is trying to improve things for us and them. I can remember when I first entered a Thai public high school as an exchange student in 1986. I asked if any of the curriculum or lesson plans were in English. (My Mom, a teacher, wanted to see some of them.) The Principal of the school literally laughed out loud. I think it's hard for many of us sometimes to remain optimistic in the face of the daily struggles we face in teaching here but there ARE people at The Ministry who know of our problems and ARE trying to fix them. I think we should all give them some time. Whatever rules or regulations The TCT have come up with have NOTHING to do with The ELI. How well they can or cannot fix the problems remains to be seen. But I choose to be optimistic. I think we should give them some time. They've only had a year and a half. Don't forget that every time the government changes, most of the policies change as well.