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Changes Young People Want in Education: Thailand

As part of the United Nations Asia and the Pacific Report on Youth Opinion Poll, carried out from April to June this year, we asked young people between 15 and 29 years old living in the Asia-Pacific region, “If you were the head of government of your country, what changes would you make about education in your country?” Starting from the November 2014 issue, the Education Policy Matters! newsletter has been showcasing the responses received from different countries in the region. This month, we take a look at the responses from Thailand.

Close to 200 Thai youths participated in the survey, with about 80 per cent in Thai and the rest, in English. 60 per cent were male, 38 per cent female, and 2 per cent transgender.  Among them, more than 43 per cent were aged between 20 to 24 years, while those below 20 years and those aged between 25 to 29 years respectively comprised 28 per cent of respondents each.  Slightly more than half of the respondents held bachelor degrees and 32 per cent, post-graduate degrees. The rest held primary or secondary level qualifications.

From the frequency of responses, an overwhelming proportion of Thai youths wanted the content of their education to be changed, with many citing the need for more practical skills applicable to both work and real life to be incorporated into the curriculum, rather than a mere emphasis on theoretical knowledge. Some more called for schools to impart critical thinking and analytical skills to students, so that students could carve their own opinions and think out of the box.  Unique to Thai responses, some youths also desired for their curriculum to contain less elements of patriotic education, including reduced focus on the inculcation of “Thai-ness” among learners.

 

Many Thai youths also called for systemic and structural reform to the education system, especially in terms of increasing freedom for learners to choose subjects and tracks based on interest, reducing schooling hours, and relooking at current national assessment systems.  Personnel issues also loomed large.  Responses brought up the necessity of ensuring that quality teaching takes place with teachers that are skilled at communicating effectively with students.  To this end, some suggested a need to look into the selection and evaluation of teachers while others recommended elevating the professional standing of teachers. Furthermore, uncommon to responses from other countries, there were several calls for staff reform within the education ministry and agencies to ensure that government officials have the capacity needed to perform their work efficiently and effectively. 

In all, the survey responses provided a glimpse of how Thai youths perceive education in Thailand and their desires for reform in curricula and pedagogy, assessment systems, and staff management.  As survey respondents were self-selected, further studies are required to ascertain if these responses are representative of the Thai youth population.

For more information, please contact Ushio Miura [u.miura(at)unesco.org] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit.


Written by Stephanie Choo [s.choo(at)unesco.org]


Related Links:

•  UN Asia and the Pacific Report on Youth
•  Changes Young People Want in Education: China
•  Asia-Pacific Regional Education Conference
•  Education Beyond 2015



17.12.2014