Steve Crawford

The system is in one big mess

Things that seemed like a good idea at the time

I would like to talk to you once again, the readers of, about the wonderful world of teacher licensing in Thailand. It's been quite a while since my last blog but Phil has begged me to bring everyone up to speed. Does anyone really know what's going on?

Many readers, friends, fellow teachers and administrators, som tam sellers and people on the web are understandably rather confused by the current state of affairs. I just wanted to write this blog to help clear up the confusion because that's the way I roll. I'm just here to keep it real. Well, as real as one can in Thailand.

OK, here's what we know for sure.

1) The infamous 20-hour Thai Language Culture and Professional Ethics courses have all been temporarily suspended. This is because The Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT) thought that the curriculums and teaching methodologies of the institutions licensed to hold this class were apparently "less than ideal". What? Am I hearing this correctly? (You ask as you scratch your head in dismay). That's right. No more ramwong sessions with Mike Piromporn blaring in the background? All that was missing was a 100 Pipers with soda, ice and glasses. I liked it! I even bought som tam and gai yang for the teacher and my classmates. I thought the classes were hilarious! An endless source of entertainment. Er, I mean...knowledge and enlightenment. Sorry. Oh well, can't have everything.

The TCT will, in theory, let the public know if and when the classes are back on. For those of you who really, really, really want to take the class, please stifle your disappointment. Or don't. I'm all about freedom of choice.

2) The 4-part teacher licensing exams have also been temporarily suspended. The reasons I really need to go into this? If you've seen, heard or experienced any of the test questions for yourself, you've probably almost recovered by now. Breathe in...breathe out. Paint happy tree, with some happy clouds. By the way, the 9-part exam for Thai teacher applicants has also been suspended, lest you cry "racism", "xenophobia" or "Olivia Newton-John"

3) The one-year Teacher Professional Licensing courses, which several local universities had running in English, have all been temporarily suspended. Are you beginning to see a pattern develop here? This is because The Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT) thought that the curriculums and teaching methodologies of the institutions licensed to hold this class were "less than ideal" (yes, I've used that sentence before I know) 

There was only one university whose curriculum was actually approved right from the beginning, and that university isn't even in Bangkok. So all of those people who spent their hard earned money and their time to take the classes, because they thought that it would fulfill their teacher license requirements are...well...let's see. My Grandfather used to have a saying about people like that. He would say "they're in the prison shower room with no bar of soap." My heartfelt condolences go out to all of you who did the course. Hopefully they'll actually be worth something in the future. The TCT will, in theory, let the public know if and when the classes are back on and, hopefully, with curriculums that are actually approved.

So now the billion dollar question - how is a person to get a non-immigrant visa and a work permit without a teacher's license when a teacher's license is the first thing immigration asks for now?

The ONLY thing that seems to be working now is for the school where a prospective teacher intends to work to type up an official letter, signed by the principal (or someone else in authority) asking the Teachers Council to please issue a "Temporary Permit to Teach Without a Teachers License".

Here is the explanation in Thai, for school administrators, etc. (ทำจดหมายถึงเลขาธิการคุรุสภาเพื่อขอหนังสือขออนุญาตให้ครูชาวต่างชาติปฏิบัติการสอนไปก่อนโดยไม่มีใบอนุญาตประกอบวิชาชีพ)

The reason cited for the request should be something along the lines of "This teacher is unable to attempt to become qualified, since all the methods of becoming qualified have been temporarily suspended. This route has worked for about twenty teachers that I know personally. Good luck. Hope it works for you. I don't know what else we can do. They've closed off all avenues of us trying to be good boys and girls and abide by the rules.

The confusion and lack of professionalism does not discriminate based on race, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation or favorite Mirinda flavor. It's an equal opportunity culprit. Case in point? My wife (who is Thai) recently registered for a Masters in Educational Administration at a Bangkok university well known for degrees in education. They took her money and gave her a schedule of classes, which starts in June. Then, two days ago, she was reading Koo Sahng Koo Sohm magazine. The owner of that magazine is on the Governing Council of The Teachers Professional Licensing Review Board. Let's not even bother asking why. T.I.T.

In the most recent issue there was an article describing, in minute detail, which teacher licensing procedural steps were canceled (all of them) and why. Now, in preparation for writing this blog, I called three different people I know at the TCT. I looked at The TCT website. I got more detail from my wife's ladies gossip, homemaker and ghost story magazine!

So there you have it. There used to be four different ways for us to try and jump through the hoops. Now three of those hoops have been put in the back storage room and nobody has the key. From now on folks, if you want to know the most up to date status of the various issues that have a direct effect on your profession, go buy a copy of Koo Sahng Koo Sohm magazine! It comes out twice a month and only costs 20 baht an issue! There's even a section of pages at the back where you can get the phone numbers to get cheap ringtones of the latest "Bird" song or half naked pics of Beer Leo girls! Who could ask for more?

Oh well........I'm glad I could help to clear up all this nasty, senseless confusion. Good luck out there.


Thank you very very much for this information. I work in a Northern country school and sometimes genuine real information can be hard to acquire even for my bosses. This information will definitely help alot towards the second waiver letter. I'm actually thinking seriously about a degree study program and have been acquiring a lot of information on on line distant learning studies mainly through open universities in Australia.

Have to finish off the diploma first this year. Thanks again for the information.

By Kirby, (23rd May 2011)

Reply to Kirby in the North. The letter in question was written by the school and it was all in Thai. I just signed the letter. Basically it said that I was near to completing my BA and that I was in the process of getting ready to take the tests.

By Who Knows, Buriram (22nd May 2011)

FOR Who Knows, Now Buriram on 2011-05-14 comment.

I am in a very similar situation to yourself ,no degree, certificate in TEFL, studying a TEFL Diploma gradually. 6 years experience.
Could you explain more about or put up the letter by you concerning “working towards” qualification as an example. I'll be on my second waiver letter at the end of this school year. I was told by Chiang Mai immigration when I got this years extension to start preparing for this second waiver letter as early as possible.(not doing it a week before next years extension)

The boss will send all the letters and docs down to Bangkok probably I think early in Term 2 would be a sufficient amount of time. Do you have to show any proof besides the letter of “working towards” qualification? Any help on the above would be greatly appreciated.

By kirby, In the North (22nd May 2011)

I popped into TCT last week to apply for a second waiver. I had letter and contract from school, letter from me stating that i was "working towards" qualification, usual copies of passport and copies of my education certificates, not degree level.

The only problem I had was the fact that I am on an O visa. The lady wanted to see a copy of my marraige cert. I explained that I didn't have one and that I had travelled seven hours to get there and would rather not travel all the way back to get it. A faxed copy was accepted.

No mention of culture course or tests. They are very busy at the moment. My waiver will be posted to me in 14 days.

By Who Knows, Now Buriram (13th May 2011)

Well, I do not think ABAC offer Thai Culture Courses. I am finishing my Master's at ABAC (M.ED in educational Administration) and have been told it is enough to get a license :)

By MasterOfEducation, Bangkok (13th May 2011)

I think you need to get your facts straight. The one year teaching programs at suan dusit, abac, have been suspended for the last 3 years because they do not meet Thai Teacher's Council nor international standards. And yes, the TCT still requires the Thai Culture Course and either a education degree or passing of the Thai Professional Teaching exam according to, the Ministry of Labor, Department of Immigration, and the head of the education department at Kaset Sart, Suan Dusit and ABAC Universities. The exams were delayed because of too many people applying which crashed the system according to and as for the Thai culture class Suan dusit university and ABAC university still offer them and they have not been canceled. Get your facts straight as I just finished mine last week.

By Justin Wade, bangkok (13th May 2011)

Well, I think you still can get a license if you have a degree in education. I am currently studying for a Master's Degree and hope to get my license by the the end of this year.

By MasterOfEducation, Bangkok (12th May 2011)

I see that everything is still as clear as mud.. Good reading. However just somewhat confused. I am happy China does not have so much BS that would give Sigmund Freud 2 or 3 ISMs

By Kanadian, Jiangxi China (12th May 2011)

So we don't need the Thai Culture class certificate now (degree or no degree)? If that's the case, I'm happy! It was such a waste of time and money anyway.

By Lisa Young, Nonthaburi (3rd May 2011)

Sorry folks, hate to piss on the party but this is wrong wrong wrong. Today i went out to the ministry of labor to pick up a renewal form and noticed on the list of requirements that the dreaded teachers licence is still well and alive. I asked several officials why they listed it as i thought it had been cancelled and they told me they hadn't heard anything about it. They even tried phoning the tct and couldn't get through (surprise surprise) and suggested i go down there myself which i did. I spoke to several other members of staff there who also confirmed that i would still have to do it. Talk about misinformation.

There are a couple of points which might be of interest to some readers. the main one being if you work for a government university such as rajhabat ( not the primary or high school) then you don't have to do it. Another thing which i was told is that if you were here before 2003 and have the old sor chor 11 and 18 licences (which we all had back then) you are also exempt from doing it. Luck would have it that i still have my old pare work and it seems i have dodged a bullet untill thay come up with something new that is.

Bangkok Phil says - "mate, I don't think this blog implies for one moment that the actual teacher's licence has been done away with. I think you need to go back and read it again. What the blog implies is that the best-known ways of actually qualifying for that teacher's licence have suddenly become either very fuzzy or non-existent. But one still needs the actual teachers licence. This is Steve Crawford's whole point isn't it?

By David, Bangkok (2nd May 2011)

Thanks for the info on the 4 tests.I had paid to take them next weekend!! In fact suspensions / cancellations are becoming the norm. I tried to enrol in the graduate diploma course last September to be told that the November course had also been cancelled 10 days earlier!!
If another alternative becomes available I'll let you know when I've applied and you will know in advance that it will be cancelled or suspended 10 days before the start date. However, the good news is that I have longer to find the unseen in Thailand book recommendations for the four tests. Any clues about where I can find them would be greatly appreciated.

By David Rimmer, Bangkok (1st May 2011)

I do like Steve Crawford's updates. This info is better than information you can buy else where. Another thing to note please use common sense always when you are in Thailand and dealing with the MOE. TCT. Immigration officials etc. I do not personally have a teaching qualification however my first teachers licenses has gotten me approved for a one year visa, a work permit and to pat my taxes and is renewable for me since 2004. I have a BA. in business and that's all.

By Donald Patnaude, Bangkok, Thailand (1st May 2011)

The fact is that the 4 part teaching licence exams have not been cancelled so stop saying that they are. Report the facts and not what you think might happen. Dealing with the Kruusapa is difficult enough as it is without listening to what might happen. Lets just stick to the facts people !!!

By Teacher Chris, Bangkok Thailand (30th April 2011)

Thanks for all the comments and thoughts people. They are appreciated. :)

@ "Where's the beef", yes, you're right. I did not mention the fact that, if you have a Bachelors (or higher) in Education, you can go to the front of the line and get a 5 year renewable TL. I didn't "forget", I just opted not to mention it. This is because I was asked to write an article for people who are NOT qualified and then if, or how, they can get a TL. I should have mentioned that in the article. Sorry.

For everyone else, I just report what I am told by The Teachers Council. Nothing more, nothing less. You do what you want with that info. For example, last night, I spoke with someone else I know there and this is what they told me...

"We have moved the next round of the 4 part exams to July, from May. However, what "some people" in The TCT "might" do is to keep moving it back again and again. This would be the same as temporarily suspending it, without having to come out and say so and losing face." If you ask me, if they do keep postponing it, that's a good thing. That would mean that they realize and admit, internally anyway, that the exams are not good enough and that they should improve them. In the meantime, they have to give us all some way to work legally. Schools still need us. So it's win/win for everybody.

Will this actually happen? I don't know. Do you? That's about as sure as I, or any of you, can get about this issue. I wish I could tell you definitively, but what here IS definitive?

I stand by my info.


By Steve Crawford, Bangkok (29th April 2011)

Haha - I wonder just how few people get the Olivia Newton-John joke! That was priceless. TIT

By Ronald, Bangkok (29th April 2011)

"The editor of this website should be careful not to approve announcements like these for it only makes things worse than it is"

One of the reasons I choose Steve Crawford to write these blogs is that both he and his wife (who helps him with the agency business) are in the TCT office literally every week. And I trust that their info is good on a particular day. Whether things change and suddenly do a U-turn - well, we all know that Thailand specializes in that kind of thing.

Personally, I have no contacts in the TCT and I also have no reason to ever go there. I couldn't check the information if I wanted to. And I'm certainly not trusting what I read on some government department website. Those sites are notorious for never being updated or updated properly.

By philip, (29th April 2011)

I would prefer to sit and wait. Knowing the TCT ,like most of us do, it maybe that the "postponement" of the tests is to give them time to get something else in place first in order to "save face'.It would not surprise me one bit if "unofficial" channels were more forthcoming with the real story than the official ones.

I am sceptical that a database problem would cause a delay of two months.

It would also appear that some of the applicants waiting to take the tests have not be informed and that others only know because they have discovered it themselves. Again proof that the TCT don't keep us up to date, as proved by Teacher Chris who has talked to TCT and not been told of the delay.

There must be many teachers out there who need to go and get a waiver soon, bearing in mind the time of year. Maybe some of them may come on here and give their "real life story".

By Who knows, Phuket/Buriram (29th April 2011)

I'd like to correct you Mr. Crawford, for failing to cite real references for announcing that the teacher license tests have been suspended, instead you only rant out your baseless opinions. The 8th teacher license test is not suspended, but postponed to July 15-17, 2011. Check the Khrusapa website or this article:
This is due to technical problems with their database.
The editor of this website should be careful not to approve announcements like these for it only makes things worse than it is.

By Sar C Astic, Thailand (29th April 2011)

You fail to mention that it is possible to get around all the irritants by having a license/certification, degree in education and experience in your home country. My license was approved without doing any of the other requirements as was several of my other friends. So if you can prove you are a real teacher that specifically was trained in and chose the field of being a teacher you may have it easier. And yes, my license is good for 5 years and renewable. I checked. It has also moved me through work permits and visa issues rather quickly.

By Wheres the beef, Bangkok (29th April 2011)

The 4-part teacher licensing exams have NOT been temporarily suspended. I have talked to the Kruusapa and they have informed me that your information is incorrect. I am taking the four exams in May.

By Teacher Chris, Bangkok (29th April 2011)

So what does this really mean to the prospective teacher, i'm planning on doing a TEFL course and at least looking to remain in Thailand for the year teaching. Is this now leagally possible??

more confused than ever...

By colin, Bristol (28th April 2011)

Thanks ever so much for the update Steve. I, like a lot of other people, was not really clear on what the current situation was.

Your blogs have been sorely missed!

By philip, (28th April 2011)

So the goal posts have shifted yet again. Getting out of teaching at a high school and getting into teaching at a university was the best decision I've made in Thailand.

By Andy, Bangkok (28th April 2011)

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