Jason Alavi

The new teacher licensing regulations

How the new rules will affect teachers


Hello and thanks for taking the time to pop in! My name is Jason Alavi. I'd like to give you a little background about myself so you know why Phil has so graciously allowed me to write this column.
I have my own private English school in Rangsit, Pathumthani. My main line of work is providing and managing foreign teachers for several schools in Pathumthani province (just Northeast of Bangkok) and the neighboring areas. I have been doing this for six years, so I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly (Yes, I'm a big Clint Eastwood fan) from both my teachers and their Thai counterparts. For lack of a more readily recognizable term, you can call me a "Teacher Agency" although I'm usually reluctant to describe myself as such. This is because many teacher agencies have reputations that are not as good as they should be. Everyone should remember that no one is perfect.
I asked Phil if I could write from the teacher agency's point of view, so as to let all of you teachers out there know that there are many good, honest, fair and professional people in this industry. Please feel free to offer any comments you may have or ask any questions. My email address is teacherfinder@hotmail.com.


 

May 2008 - The new teacher licensing regulations

Now, to the subject of this column; "New Teacher Licensing Regulations". There is a lot of confusion out there as to what we have to do and who does or does not have to do it. First, let me state that all of the information that I am about to give you is correct as of Monday, May 19th, 2008. If you've been here even one year you probably know that rules and regulations change here with a frequency that would not be accepted back home. T.I.T. (This is Thailand) Moaning about "this would never happen in... or "the way things should be" doesn't help anyone. Let's deal with the reality. If anyone after reading this has some more recent information or thinks that any of my information is incomplete or incorrect, please let me know! I would appreciate it. I can disseminate to a lot of other people who might be in need of it.

There are 3 types of applicants and 4 methods to apply for a teachers' license. Details follow:

Applicant Type 1 - (Method 1)
For any teachers possessing a Bachelor Degree (or higher) in EDUCATION. People in this category must possess, obtain and/or complete the following:
1) Must possess a Bachelors of Education from an internationally accredited and recognized university.
2) Must possess a valid Non-Immigrant Visa
3) Must attend and successfully complete the "Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program" which has been designed by The Teachers Council of Thailand.
4) Must possess a valid Work Permit
5) Must have at least 1 full academic years teaching experience and be able to provideverifiable documentation to prove as much. (University teaching internships can be counted.)
6) A certified translation of all of their academic documents. (Transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc.) This translation must be done by a licensed translation service.
7) Two 1 inch, color pictures
8) A receipt for the 500 Baht application fee, for the Teachers License itself. This can be obtained at The Teachers Council of Thailand. When you have completed all of the above steps, you can then apply for (and receive) a Teachers License from The Teachers Council of Thailand.

Applicant Type 2 - (Method 2)
For any teachers possessing a Bachelor Degree (or higher) in anything OTHER than education. People in this category must possess, obtain and/or complete the following:
1) Must possess a Bachelors Degree from an internationally accredited and recognized university.
2) Must possess a valid Non-Immigrant Visa
3) Must attend and successfully complete the "Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program" which has been designed by The Teachers Council of Thailand.
4) Must possess a valid Work Permit
5) A certified translation of all of their academic documents. (Transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc.) This translation must be done by a licensed translation service.
6) Two 1 inch, color pictures
7) A receipt for the 500 Baht application fee, for the Teachers License itself. This can be obtained at The Teachers Council of Thailand.
8) ****** Must successfully complete a one year "Teacher Professional Licensing Course" at any academic institution authorized to offer it by The Teachers Council of Thailand. The average rate for this course is 60,000 Baht and the courses are held on either a few weeknights per week or on weekends. When you have completed all of the above steps, you can then apply for (and receive) a Teachers License from The Teachers Council of Thailand.

OR
Applicant Type 2 - (Method 3)
- Steps 1 through 7, same as Method 2
8) Take a 4 part written exam, in lieu of the year long course. Each part of the exam costs 1,000 baht to take. If you pass all 4 parts you'll receive a certificate proving so. When you have completed all of the above steps, you can then apply for (and
receive) a Teachers License from The Teachers Council of Thailand.

Applicant Type 3 - (Method 4)
For any teachers possessing a High School Diploma, or lower. People in this category must possess, obtain and/or complete the following:
1) Must be able to provide original transcripts from the institution where their highest educational level was attained.
2) Must possess a valid Non-Immigrant Visa
3) Must attend and successfully complete the "Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program" which has been designed by The Teachers Council of Thailand.
4) Must possess a valid Work Permit
5) A certified translation of all of their academic documents. (Transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc.) This translation must be done by a licensed translation service.
6) Two 1 inch, color pictures
7) A receipt for the 500 Baht application fee, for the Teachers License itself. This can be obtained at The Teachers Council of Thailand.
8) **** The Principal of the school they are working at must write a letter to The President of The Teachers Council of Thailand. This letter is to, basically, beg The Teachers Council to issue a Teacher License to said teacher for one or more of several possible reasons:
a) The school does not have the budget to hire anyone else
b) The teacher has many years of teaching experience, whether at that school or others and The Principal feels that this should be considered, in place of a Bachelors of Ed.
c) The teacher has been through many conferences, seminars, training sessions, etc and The Principal feels that this should be considered, in place of a Bachelors of Ed.

 

Warning!! I have been told by The President of The Teachers Council of Thailand that rarely is a teachers licenses awarded this way, so I wouldn't count on it as a truly viable alternative if I were you.


When you have completed all of the above steps, you can then apply for (and receive) a Teachers License from The Teachers Council of Thailand. Now, after reading every thread I could I find on this subject on the ajarn forum and other teacher gathering places, I would like to try and answer some of the questions I have been reading from many posters.

 

Some people have been wondering where to take the 20 hour Thai Culture Training Course. There are a few places that have been approved by The Teachers' Council of Thailand, (T.C.T.) that I have been made aware of. There are probably many other places, but these are the only ones I know of now. I am not recommending any of them, just passing on knowledge. These are:

1) The Filipino Educators in Thailand (www.filipinoeducatorsinthailand.com) ,I tried to get a phone number and an address for them but their website was down. I do not know if they ONLY accept Filipinos or accept all nationalities to attend their classes. The course is supposed to be taught in English, not Tagalog. If any one finds out the price details, please let me know. Thanks.

2) Chandrakasem Rajabhat University, which is in Bangkok. Registration and Education Promotional Office, Tel. 0-2541-7744, 0-2942-6900-99 ext 1210-1241) A Belgian teacher of mine went through this course a year ago and said it was very professionally run and came with many helpful materials. They charged him 8,000 baht.

3) Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, (www.dusit.ac.th) (02) 244 - 5000. I do not know anyone who has gone through them. If anyone has, please share your thoughts, experiences and opinions.

4) Thepsatri Rajabhat Lopburi University, (www.tro.ac.th) (036) 422-607-9 ext. 426 or (081) 745-6668. I do not know anyone who has gone through them. If anyone has, please share your thoughts, experiences and opinions.

If you want to know of any other schools approved by The Teachers Council of Thailand, contact them directly and ask. Their website address is www.ksp.or.th. As of the writing of this article, NO downloadable documents could be downloaded through their home page. The Teachers Council of Thailand's phone number is (02) 280 - 4331 or (02) 280 - 4334 thru 4339. Some helpful links are below: (Thank you to Jimmy Lee, through Ajarn.com)
http://www.ajarn.com/trainingprogramforforeignteachers.htm
http://www.ksp.or.th/upload/301/files/570-8429.pdf
http://www.ksp.or.th/upload/301/files/570-8429.pdf
http://foreprof.ksp.or.th/foreign-test.pdf
http://www.ajarn.com/Filipino/articles/culturecoursecomments.htm

The first memo about these new regulations from The Ministry of Education and The Teachers Council of Thailand came out about 2 years ago. Until a few months ago, no mention of this has ever been made to me at either Immigration or The Labor Department. When I tried getting new visas and work permits for my teachers, (a few months ago) the Immigration officials told me that the teacher had to have their teachers license under the new regs before they could be issued a Non-Immigrant Visa.

They recommended me to call The Teachers Council and ask for an "Extension of Permission To Work Without a Teachers License" (ทำจดหมายถึงเลขาธิการคุรุสภาเพื่อขอหนังสือขออนุญาตให้ครูชาวต่างชาติปฏิบัติการสอนไปก่อนโดยไม่มีใบอนุญาตประกอบวิชาชีพ, in Thai) under the new regulations. The Teachers Council did give me as many as I needed. Each one was good for TWO years. So that means that my teachers can continue to work until mid-February 2010, before they will need a teachers license. Now, in the latest memo pertaining to all of the Teacher Licensing Requirements, The Teachers Council stated that teachers had until "the end of the academic year ending in 2009" (which is Mid February 2009) to get all of their ducks in a row so to speak. So we have Immigration officials saying one thing, letters from The Teachers Council granting another and memos from The Teachers Council saying yet another! Where does that leave us? I don't know.

For example, I have an American teacher who is 50 years old - a fantastic teacher, has a great attitude to work, but never finished his bachelor degree. Now according to these new regulations, he is supposed to finish his degree between now and mid February of 2010. How is he supposed to do that? He's not. I have also heard the date January 15th thrown around, as a rumor, as to the cut-off date for when those of you who do not have a teacher's license (under these new regulations) will no longer be able to get a non-immigrant visa.

As far as I know it's an unsubstantiated rumor. Who knows what's going to happen? I think (and hope) what will happen is that the MOE and The Teachers Council will stick to their guns until a few weeks into the 2010/2011 academic year. (Somewhere around early June 2010.) Then when around 80 percent of all Thai public and private schools suddenly can't find foreign teachers, they'll probably come up with a flexible way for everyone to work. Yes, for my business these rules are as difficult as they are for all of you individual teachers. Every April and May I typically have about 800 applicants to fill the 5 to 10 positions I need. This year I had less than 400 - a drop of MORE THAN 50%!! The only thing different this year is the teachers license requirements, not to mention the criminal background check (which I think is a great idea!) I need to know if any of my applicants are running from the law.

Oh...in case you are wondering, even the teachers who work in shopping mall English schools are affected by these rules. These schools are officially classified as "15 (2) Private Schools" under M.O.E. Code. These are any private schools which do NOT have to follow the curriculum guidelines set forth by The MOE, such as language schools, beauty schools, sewing schools, dancing schools, etc. They all have their own curriculums, which are not dictated by The MOE. A "15 (1) Private School" is a private school that must follow the curriculum guidelines set forth by The MOE. Some new information I received, just this afternoon, is that
1) If a private language school (like mine) sends a letter to The Office of The Private Education Commission (O.P.E.C.)(www.opec.go.th) officially appointing that foreigner as a "person who engages in the act of teaching" (but NOT as a "Teacher") that foreigner does NOT have to have a teachers license.
2) However, if that language school wants that foreigner to be officially listed as a "Teacher", that foreigner will have to get a teachers license. Gee, I wonder how many of us will want "Teachers"?
This information was correct as of today, May 18th, 2008. It may change soon, who knows? If you want to be sure, ask your employer to ask OPEC.

Going back to the teacher licensing methods, I think that the vast majority of teachers are going to try to use Method 4. That is where the school they are working at sends a letter to The Teachers Council, basically begging them to give this teacher a Teacher's License. However, The President of The Teachers Council has told me that it is VERY rare that they will grant one of these. Don't worry though because if you are lucky enough to be granted a visa this way it is yours for life, even though you would not have gotten it without the school's help. You will not lose it if and when you stop working for that school. The days of a school being able to hold a teacher's license over a teacher's head are over. At the most you would owe the school a debt of gratitude.

So to conclude - no matter who you are or what your educational background is, you'll have to take the 20 hour "Thai Culture Training Course". The sooner you do it, the better for you. It may help earn you some leniency in getting an extension, because at least you're trying to do what they want and show good faith. As far as the other requirements go, if you have a Bachelors of Ed, you're golden. If you have a Bachelors of something else, take the 4-part exam on educational knowledge and, even if you fail and have to re-take it, it's cheaper than the 60,000 Baht 1 year Professional Certification Course. It's only 4,000 Baht each time you take it. I can't imagine anyone taking more than two times to pass it. 8,000 baht is a lot less than 60,000! If you don't have a college degree, ask the school you are currently at to start writing a letter to ask for The Teachers Council to "have mercy and give this foreigner a teachers license".

I understand that The MOE is tired of having a lot of unqualified teachers teaching Thai children. However as the man said, "You pay peanuts...you get monkeys!" I wonder if anyone who makes policy decisions knows how uncompetitive the salary and benefits packages a lot of Thai schools offer are. I think that a high school diploma in combination with a TESL certificate from a reputable TESL school should be enough to teach conversational English. Grammar doesn't come into play there and all I need out of a conversational English teacher is a good attitude, a good work ethic and the ability to speak English fluently.

For English programs, I agree that a teacher should have a degree in the subject they are teaching (or something related) OR a Bachelors of Ed. In my experience, English Program teaching is too detailed and fine subject oriented to have someone without a Bachelors teach well in. That's not to say it can't be done, but for EPs I agree with The MOE. They are just trying to improve the overall teaching force in their country.

So go out there, take the 20 hour Thai Culture Course and, if you really love this place and want to stay here, try to get your teachers license through one of the 4 methods. If you can afford the year long Professional Certification Course, (60,000 baht) go for it. It couldn't hurt. If not, take the 4 tests for 4,000 Baht and good luck.
Finally, if anyone receives their teachers license under these new regulations, could you please write to me and let me know how easy or difficult it was or anything else you feel might be helpful? Then with your permission I'll include it in my column for all to read. Hope to hear your opinions, see you next month and may the force be with you!

 




Comments

I have no comment on previous posts as they all have points to make. However, It seems that there is a list of non accredited degrees that the MOE is working from. Many teaches have had their licences revoked but with no personal contact. They have searched Wiki but the list there is ambiguous at least. Is there a check able list available to the public?

By Paulus, Bangkok (14th September 2014)

I didn't read all your post as it was very long, but I'm assuming that you are talking about working in Government schools only. As far as I know the regulations do not apply to private language schools.

By Nick, Thailand (25th August 2010)

Hi Jason
I am a fully qualified teacher from England but my category isn't listed. I have a B.A. degree with a Post Grad Certificate in Education. In the UK this is considered equal to a Bachelor in Ed. I taught for 8 yrs in the UK before coming here.

My human resources manager is now telling me I have to 1) do the Thai cultural course which is ok with me because everyone has to do it anyway. (2) take the dreaded unpassable test. I was informed if you are fully qualified you don't need to take it but my employer says I do... any ideas?

By Richard, Khlong Toey, Bangkok (5th June 2010)

Hi Paul,
Sorry about the slow answer. I just saw that Phil put all of my old articles into the Blogs section.

I feel your pain and annoyance! As far as a number of someone at The TCT who speaks English well enough to have an in depth conversation with you about licensing procedures? If you find anyone please let ME know! :)

Sorry I couldn't be of any further help. Good luck to you!

The best I can do is offer to meet you at The TCT someday and interpret for you. Let me know.

Jason

By Jason Alavi, Rangsit, Pathumthani (28th February 2010)

Hey Jason
Thanks for your blog it's probably one of the most rational one I've read yet. Thank you for the link to the regulations article. Unfortunately I missed the current date (of January 31st) for the test application by 2 days. My school is keeping quiet and closed mouthed about anything regarding these tests. They are not recommending them because of the high failure rate. I see this as neglectful because that puts jobs and peoples lives here in jeopardy. We are getting little to no information. Can you email me an email or phone number of an individual that speaks english who I can talk to about these requirements or the next admission dates for the test? Maybe even recieve something on paper? I phoned the phone number on the Teaching Coucil website however the automated answering machine was in Thai. My Thai is not bad but not good enough for a answering machine.
Thank you
Paul

By Paul, Bangkok (9th February 2010)

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