Parvez Amlani

Why education reform in Thailand is imminent

The Thai MOE surely has to begin the formal development of rules and regulations.

Personal Note:  I was half-way finished with my blog topic for this month when I happened to read a comment on my previous article that distracted me to write on a separate but very relevant issue concerning foreign teachers in Thailand.

My previous article titled “The Education System: An Opportunity to Reform” elicited the following comment: 

“It always makes me smile a little when I hear people talking about changing the Thai education system . This isn't new. Cast your minds back 10, 15, 20 years or so most can't because they weren't in the game. Anyway, farangs have been spouting this in one form or another. Now just have a think what if Thais really did reform the education system. Wouldn't most farangs be back in the same boat they were before - flipping burgers back in farang land! Think ahead before shooting yourselves in the foot!”

By Mr Dave, Thailand (10th April 2022)

Upon reading this rather cynical opinion, I realized there was a very poignant point to be made regarding foreign teachers in Thailand.

Whether you agree with Mr. Dave or not, I have heard the same point being made by many foreign teachers in high schools in Bangkok and Chang Mai where I was previously employed.

The problem I have with foreign teachers who hold this viewpoint is that of their implied lack of understanding of the concept of education which appears to stem from their own insecurities as so-called “teachers”.  Most educators who hold this perspective of education in Thailand lack either any teaching certifications or understanding of teaching methodologies such as development of organized and effective lesson plans, classroom management, student centered learning to name a few.  

Education as a business

It is unfortunate that Thai schools are more focused on education as a business than a source of discerning legitimate knowledge to the next generation of Thai leaders. This is especially true of those high schools that have so-called English Programmes (EP) which have MOE guidelines stipulating that 80% of instruction must be in English.  

This issue therefore has created an issue for these schools with recruitment of foreign teachers with legitimate education certification and classroom training. The real problem is two-fold:  foreign native English teachers demand a higher salary and parents demand foreign teachers to teach the English Programmes.

So how have these school in Thailand addressed these issues?  Very creatively, to say the least!  

Remedy No. 1:  Hire teachers from predominantly non-native English countries that have enough English skills to get away with being presented as “English” teachers.  These teachers mostly teach science and social studies subjects that don’t require a strong understanding of English language teaching, but pass as “foreign” teachers.

Remedy No. 2:  Pay these teachers the minimum required which is generally half or one-third of native English language speakers, but 25 - 30% more than trained Thai teachers, thereby increasing the schools profitability.

Remedy No. 3:  Hire a bare minimum of native English teachers to teach English language subjects to appease the parents who pay the school exorbitant fees for their children to be enrolled in the EP under the assumption that those kids are receiving a superior level of education.


The problem with this whole scenario is that most schools have elected to compromise their basic recruitment and on boarding principles by ignoring their very own guidelines relating to teacher certifications and training.  

Schools have stooped to suggesting that a simple Bachelors Degree in any field without any teacher training is acceptable to work as a teacher as long as you are a foreigner, and as a matter of real consequence, the whiter you are, the better. While this may sound blatantly discriminatory, it is a known fact.

To make things even worse, if the teacher cannot qualify for a work permit due to the lack of certification, the schools will simply “hide” the teacher until the immigration officer checking credentials at the school has left!  I have seen this happen with my very own two eyes! 

Another massive fraud that is continually being committed relating to hiring foreigners is that of recruitment agencies that have mastered the art of forging certificates and transcripts to provide to the schools.  

The right to an education

Therefore, when I read the comment from Mr. Dave to my earlier article, I have to confess that I was initially stunned.  However, upon second thought and some objective reflection, I could see some merit to his point.

If the Thai education system was in fact reformed where certifications and teachers qualifications were vetted, then so-called teachers like Mr. Dave would indeed have to resort to “flipping burgers” in their native countries as he states simply because they have no real qualifications to represent themselves as teachers. 

My entire argument, however, rests on the premise that education globally is an individual right, not a privilege and ergo, the right to an informed level of education for trained professionals. Thailand is no exception. 

Mr. Dave’s argument is that reforming the Thai education system to provide a better overall education experience with qualified and certified teachers would be pernicious to so-called teachers like him and he is perfectly correct.

The problem with this kind of reasoning, however,  is that these so-called teachers cater to a sense of entitlement and privilege which cannot be questioned or threatened.  They feed off an egocentric, arrogant and purely in narcissistic motive bordering on fraudulent misrepresentations that people like him embrace with absolutely no consideration for the general Thai population and especially Thai children and their families. 

It is precisely for these reasons that the Thai MOE has to begin the formal development of rules and regulations aimed at maintaining and sustaining an education process that provides a high standard of education with certified and trained teachers.  The Thai political and socio-economic structures need these properly educated leaders of tomorrow to guide their beautiful country and its people into the new world.

Parvez (Par) is the Business Administration Program Director at Raffles International College in Bangkok.


"Remedy No. 2: Pay these teachers the minimum required which is generally half or one-third of native English language speakers, but 25 - 30% more than trained Thai teachers, thereby increasing the schools profitability"
True. But not in general.
Thai teachers fresh from university get about 15k. In this case yes, Non-NES teachers get higher wages. But those wages for Thai teachers increase every year, so a Thai teacher in his/her thirties receives about 30K. All Thai teachers my age receive way more than me unless maybe they teach in a private school.

By Steve Nick, Phitsanulok (9th June 2022)

My, my. Me thinks the article has treaded on some highly sensitive toes...
Univ. of Mutton Vindaloo? No bigotry expressed there!
Thai teachers teach like dictators! Really?
90% of teachers from the Philippines, Asia, Africa have no teaching qualifications ...but all western teachers do, of course!
Degrees are just a piece of paper...tell that to your surgeon next time you go under the knife!
And on and on and on....
Disheartening in the 21st century to say the least...

By Par, Canada (19th May 2022)

"Most educators who hold this perspective of education in Thailand lack either any teaching certifications or understanding of teaching methodologies such as development of organized and effective lesson plans, classroom management, student centered learning to name a few. "

How do you know that? Starting witch hunts in the guise of reform just to make yourself feel important and validated in an online community is not the way to go! Anyways where do we start?

Maybe, throwing out teachers with degrees from the university of Mutton Vindaloo?

Or perhaps, if you have a non English name?

Maybe.. aren't quite the right shade?

This is a slippery slope. I've seen these kind of posts playing out on Thai Visa and other forums over the years, they're not new, and follow the same predictable patterns.

Let me finish by saying this.. there is enough work for everyone. Nobody is going to steal your job! Relax, we can all co exist quite easily and happily!

By David, In the TEFL Trenches Of Thailand (18th May 2022)

The OPs articles have reminded me of a teacher I met in Bangkok going back to the year 2000. I will call this teacher Mr X for the sake of this article. Mr X was teaching in government schools all over Bangkok and had been in Thailand for 5 years when I first met him.

Amongst the management he was known as an old hand. Anyway, after being unfortunate enough to be working alongside Mr X who I must add became despised by other teachers as well as the Thai teachers for his haughty, arrogant, and superior attitude, plus a short fuse.

Well, Mr X was always complaining, and what was his favorite line?
Mr X: "These unqualified teacher who come over here and can't teach I'm looking forward to the day the MOE sorts them all out and gets proper teachers in, they won't last a minute" Or words to those effect.

Now Mr X was a very bad teacher whose classes frequently walked out or didn't attend, in addition he had no degree, and not even a TEFL. Wow, watch out for stones in that glass house came to mind. Also, it was apparent there was a major lack of awareness going on too.

Reminding me of the Op who brushes people off with words like their insecurities, lack of understanding generic terms. 8 out of 10 doctors agree, most people think and so on and so on!

It's about time people got back to teaching instead of writing overly long woke waffle. As the David Byrne once said: "You're talking a lot but you're not saying anything!

By Stefan, Dublin (4th May 2022)

Having read some of the comments and the article it's becoming crystal clear that there is a hierarchy in operation here.
Anyone who has been teaching here for a few decades will know this possible not the OP and his minions though.

However, it's the same old same old story as it used to be on the Ajarn forum. Back in those days it was teachers without degrees being looked down on by teachers with degrees. Now most teacher without degrees have been forced to leave over the last decade or so because you can't operate that easily without a degree in Thailand anymore.

So low and behold :-) It's teachers with EDU qualifications looking down on teachers with degrees in other fields now lol. How people try and devour each other in the name of their own personal narcissism and insecurities. But to be fair this happens in all jobs even with manual workers so it's not unique to teaching.

Teaching is not ROCKET SCIENCE and Degrees are pieces of paper sorry to burst a few bubbles here. Furthermore, so called unqualified people have been doing it and made a great success of it, so that just goes to show you!

BTW Degrees in general are expensive pieces of paper, but yes they do open doors and are essential in order to get a job and that's about all. They don't turn you into superman, or cure your narcissism!

By Siam Stan, Standing right next to you probably so be careful! (3rd May 2022)

If the level of education depended on official papers, Thailand would have the best education system in the world. After all, all Thai teachers have licenses from Krusapa and school principals have magically earned doctorates.

But it is safer to talk about foreigners than about the biggest problem: the level of Thai teachers and the system in which no student can (really) fail.

By Jessica, Earth (3rd May 2022)

Maybe I misread it, but it read as though, we have to feel sorry for Education orgs. and show them a way to cut costs, I mean parents pay extra for the courses, which is supposed to supplement higher costs for teachers, so why blame western teachers for being bad, and instead hire mostly non-native teachers who are more honest and not bad, this is naive,

the west has a rule of law, difficult to scam the system back in the west, compared to the ease of a corrupt system in the Phillipines, Asia, Africa, where 90% of teachers coming to teach in Thailand have no real qualifications in teaching, but can get twice their pay as teachers in Thailand, instead of poorly paid sales, office, retail jobs in their home countries, but because their schooling has better English studies, they can communicate well in English, and get a job as well as having fake certs, that Thai schools can mostly never validate, unlike the west, where validation is part of respecting the rule of law

So you and others want to eliminate drunks or bad teachers who are only western, as a reason to imorove thai schools, but want to blindly think all non/native speakers, are honest, highly skilled teachers, who care about their profession, but at the same time, more thais with money are enrolling in internationals schools of various standard, with their more modern facilities and teaching resources, not because of drunk teachers, but because the thai teachers is to regime brainwashed, teach as dictators, have little understanding of good or up to date teaching skills to improve students ability, and most of the schools look like an oliver twist movie, dreadful places to learn

Education under these authoritive regimes are used as a form of brainwashing and corruption, instead of pillars of learning

By Sash, BKK (3rd May 2022)

You’re right. It’s about time Thailand starts kicking out all the uneducated, unqualified backpacker TEFL teachers and start focusing on qualified teachers, while also tripping the salary given, thai students might actually stand a chance. Sorry Dave, your degree in film and 2 months classroom experience means next to nothing.

By Jim, Land of Scams (2nd May 2022)

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