I was at a new housewarming party of an MOE official the other day and I had a very unexpected, but very pleasantly surprising, conversation.
Most of these "parties" are pretty dry affairs with bland, socially acceptable conversation, food and company. No one dares say anything even slightly controversial or contrary to whatever the current MOE policy is on anything when we talk shop.
I was seated next to the Head of one of four Educational Administrative Regions. In Thailand, the four are Northern, Central, Northeastern and Southern.
After the usual small talk we started discussing the differences between educational systems in different countries. He asked me what I thought the number one problem facing the education system in Thailand was.
Uh-oh, I thought. Talk about a loaded question! As I sat there, with an expression like a deer caught in headlights on my face, he laughed and proceeded to give me his two cents worth.
"The biggest problem with the education system, or any other system here, is the (expletive) patronage system" he proclaimed to my amazement.
He then went on to rail against the patronage system that puts "...unqualified Principals in schools who come in, have a cup of coffee, take a piss and then leave!"
I was blown away. I've been talking to Thai government officials for years and I always thought to myself "WHEN is one of these people going to say something real for a change?" Here was one doing just that.
We continued to talk for about an hour more and he continued to astound me with his candor, ability to critically evaluate the citizens he served and his seeming burning desire to fix the problems holding his country back. He controls policy implementation for 14 out of the 76 Provinces Thailand has and can move Principals at will in the nearly 500 schools in those Provinces.
I suppose the reason I wanted to write about him was that he gave me hope. Sometimes dealing with the same seeming unwillingness to enact change or admit that others might have better ideas grinds me down. This guy made me realize that there ARE MOE officials "fighting the good fight" at the risk of sounding maudlin.
Just wanted to share the experience with you. I thought it might give some of you, like me, hope that positive change will happen, it will just take time.
On June 18th - 20th The Teachers Council of Thailand is holding a 3 day seminar at The Welcome Hotel in Pattaya. It is being administered by Chonkanyanukul School of Cholburi. The seminar is free. The hotel room is 800 baht per night, single or double. The hotel fee and transportation fee is up to the teacher, the school or both to pay.
The MOE has tasked The TCT with licensing all teachers, as we know. The TCT, in turn, has enlisted the assistance of The ELI (English Language Institute) which is a part of The MOE in the administration of the seminars. The ELI has set up four different public schools as "Regional English Program Administrative Centers". The school that handles all EP matters in The Central Academic Administrative Region is Yothinburana School, in Bangkok. Yothinburana has passed the torch onto Chonkanyanukul School of Cholburi which leads us here.
This seminar is a training seminar in which you will be taught all of the information to take the 2nd of the 4 Part Exams to receive a Teachers License. The 2nd part of the 4 part exam covers Curriculum Development, Learning Management and Classroom Management.
The Teachers Council realized that it's 4 part exams failed miserably and now they are trying to rectify the situation by doing this seminar. An English speaking instructor will give all of the information needed and then, on the last morning, you would take the exam. If you pass, you only have to take the other 3 parts. I've been told that (at this point) they plan on having "one or two of these seminars per year".
Who can go?...
1) Anyone who teaches in a public or private Anuban, Primary or Secondary school that falls under the jurisdiction of OBEC or OPEC in The Central Academic Administrative Region. (If you're not sure if your school qualifies, call the people running the seminar, their info is below, at the end of the article.)
2) Any teacher who has already taken and passed the "20 Hour Thai Culture, Language and Professional Ethics Course" prior to attending the seminar.
3) Any teacher who has AT LEAST a Bachelor Degree in any subject OTHER than Education. (You will be asked to provide copies of academic credentials.)
4) Any teacher who meets qualification requirements 1 to 3 who sponsoring school feels "has a more than reasonable chance of understanding and passing".
I have been told, by Chonkanyanukul School, that teachers from English Programs will be given priority admittance, but everyone is welcome to apply until seats fill.
The man you want to contact is Ajarn Root (from Chonkanyanukul School) at (086) 543 - 7688.
Good luck and I'll see you there!
Ajarn Root at Chonkalyanukul School in Cholburi called a friend of mine (after reading my recent article), who called me, to ask me to correct two mistakes.
1) There will be NO exam at the end of the three day seminar, in Pattaya, on June 18th, 19th and 20th. It will JUST be a seminar to impart the knowledge needed to take Exam 2 (of the 4 part exam series) to help interested foreign teachers get a better pass rate. HOWEVER, everyone who attends will receive a certificate attesting to the fact that they attended this seminar, which will probably help anyone who doesn't have one yet in getting a "Temporary permit to teach Without a Teacher's License". Of course, having an idea of the material that will be covered in the second exam, after attending this seminar, can only help you pass the exam.
2) The English Language Institute is NOT directly involved with this. Cholglayanukul School is taking the initiative itself, with the knowledge and consent of The Central Academic Administrative Region. The ELI is already overworked with the translation of the 2551 Curriculum into English.
My apologies to Ajarn Root and to any of my fellow foreign teachers out there!
I still think it's a great idea and I want to thank Ajarn Root for having enough vision and initiative to see something that needed doing and doing it!
See you in Pattaya!