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Merge small schools, urges World Bank

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Merge small schools, urges World Bank

By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA 
THE NATION

 

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Reducing number of schools will improve education sector, ease teacher shortage

 

THE WORLD BANK is urging Thailand to sharply cut the number of its small schools so as to improve budget efficiency and solve the problem of teacher shortage. 

 

The recommendation came after an in-depth analysis revealed that there is one teacher for every 14.7 primary students, yet the quality of education is far from impressive. At the primary level, Thailand has the smallest class size in the world. 

 

“While the number of students in Thailand has dropped from nearly 9.5 million in 1997 to just 7.4 million [this year], the number of schools has not reduced at the same pace,” Dilaka Lathapipat said in his capacity as human development economist at the World Bank. 

 

He was speaking at the 14th Thammasat Economic Focus forum, which addressed educational reform. 

 

According to the World Bank, Thailand does not need to maintain small schools because the transportation system has improved greatly. Even if some small schools are closed, children in the provinces will end up spending just half an hour extra getting to school. 

 

Hence, the World Bank said, all small schools should be merged so resources can be shared. 

 

And though some students may have to travel a bit farther, they will benefit from better education. 

 

Currently, many small schools don’t have enough teaching staff, which means when a teacher is present in one class, other classes have to go without. 

 

“Also, even if some schools are fully staffed, they still have difficulty retaining talented teachers,” he pointed out. 

 

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Dilaka said merging small schools would cut down the number of institutes run by the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) from 30,506 to 17,766.

 

If Obec adopted this recommendation, the number of classrooms would fall from 344,009 to 259,261. Likewise, the total number of teachers required to staff all classrooms would also drop from 475,717 to 373,620, he added. 

 

As per World Bank studies, Thailand is performing well below the expected level given its per-student spending. Low or stagnant student performance is visible in both national and international assessments. 

 

For instance, Thai 15-year-old students’ performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) continues to lag behind the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s average by 2.5 years. 

 

Pumsaran Tongliemnak, an academic at the Education Ministry’s Policy and Planning Office, said Thailand needed to take action now that the problems have been identified. 

 

“If we don’t solve these problems now, the gap in educational quality [between rural small schools and large, well-equipped schools] will only widen,” he said.

 

He pointed out that so many great education plans are drafted but without efficient implementation, success is difficult to achieve. 

 

Assoc Professor Chaiyuth Punyasavatsut, from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Economics, told the forum that Obec now allocated Bt200 billion of its annual Bt300-billion budget to teachers’ salaries.

 

So, if school consolidation reduces the number of teachers, then Obec will have more funds to improve the quality of education, he pointed out. 

 

“Competition for teaching positions in Obec-run schools is very high, because government teachers enjoy relatively good pay, job security, medical benefits for themselves and their family members, pension, as well as respect from others,” Chaiyuth said. 

 

Govt teachers well paid

 

As per the World Bank, the average monthly wage for teachers in Thailand stood at Bt40,000 in 2016, and this number has risen over the past few years. 

 

Meanwhile, Pumsaran said that though Thailand has increased special allowances for government teachers in recent years, the quality of educational has not risen. 

 

“The best Thai student ranks 1,500th in the world, while the best Thai university is ranked 500th,” he said. 

 

Chaiyuth added that he supported the idea of school consolidation because per-head expenditure at small schools was much higher than at large schools. 

 

“Per-head monthly expenditure in large schools stands at Bt21,000, while at small schools it is Bt45,000,” he said. 

 

The government spends Bt500 billion a year on education, and Bt300 billion of this goes to Obec. 

 

The World Bank said “improvement in educational resource allocation in the basic education sector” would likely be the single most important reform that Thailand could implement. 

 

It also pointed out that top and above-average school systems have consistently implemented policies in five key areas: institution, assessment, public spending, readiness to learn, and teachers.

 

If Thailand goes ahead with school consolidation, it will have already addressed two areas: public spending and teachers. 

 

“The World Bank will release a regional report on these two key areas in October,” Chaiyuth said. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30353557

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-09-03

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Wow, this could be the major change they have been looking for...

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

The recommendation came after an in-depth analysis revealed that there is one teacher for every 14.7 primary students, yet the quality of education is far from impressive. At the primary level, Thailand has the smallest class size in the world. 

I'm truly surprised at that. My son (a couple of years ago) had thirty-odd students per class.

While I follow the idea of reduce the number of schools to cope with the teacher shortage, it will only gain public support if there is, for example, ongoing (safe) transport provided to and from school back to the 'home village' if it's some distance away.

 

1 hour ago, webfact said:

The World Bank said “improvement in educational resource allocation in the basic education sector” would likely be the single most important reform that Thailand could implement.

Agreed, but the reality is that's the last thing the government/elite want, as improving anything within the education system will give the opportunity for kids to start to think for themselves.

If that ever happens, then within ten years there will be more dissent when young people start to realise how much they are being screwed by those in power.

 

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

Even if some small schools are closed, children in the provinces will end up spending just half an hour extra getting to school. 

This is BS. My step-daughter leaves home at 6.30am and does not return until 5.30-6.00pm and the school she goes to is only 30 kilometres away. I do not think she is being taught for 10+ hours.

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If there's really one teacher for every 15 primary school kids, how about reassigning some of them to teach high school kids where the average class size seems to be 40 to 50 kids? 

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At my school, the smallest Primary class is 75 students, largest 90 students... the kindergarten classes are at about 45 students a piece..... so there must be some very small schools out there in the provinces!!!

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The "expert" clearly doesnt have a little kid already spending 40 minutes on deadly Thai roads EACH WAY every school day !

 

These  purveyors of great ideas really make me laugh - have they factored in how much of this supposed  savings will need to  be spent on increased fuel bills , on extra bus services , on road widening and improvements  , and on the inevitable increase in  hospital treatments  for  all these kids who will be spending more time exposed to the risks of  the most dangerous roads in the world?

Im an ex-teacher , and smaller class sizes always lead to better outcomes - look it up.

 

What about we merge lots of banks?

Then they could  work their tellers harder and  need less managers  and directors  and maintain less buildings and then they could  hand on all the massive  savings directly  to the schools  and improve the Education system ?

What about that idea?

 

Edited by zaZa9
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I guess they missed the part about a million dirt poor kids quite literally, coming up with a safe transport alternative to get to the big fancy schools. Far easier to find a few teachers and send them out to the provs.

 

 

 

I support a certain amount of competition among schools. Something like US charter schools. After that, everyone should go to school where they live. It's chaos every morning as children + parents shuffle across town by every conveyance possible. Total waste of time, money and resources.

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Whoever did the research for the World Bank clearly never set foot in a Thai Government school classroom!  15 students per class!!!  It's more like 50!

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On 9/7/2018 at 6:27 PM, otherstuff1957 said:

Whoever did the research for the World Bank clearly never set foot in a Thai Government school classroom!  15 students per class!!!  It's more like 50!

Nah , its the age old story ots , its all about shutting down education to the hard scrabble outlying kids and getting them to pour  into the cities and be factory fodder for the world banks best buddies offering , "Initiatives" ... The World Bank serves bankers and their interests ... who in their right minds would follow the very same individuals who brought the worlds economy to its knees in 2008 and still drive their Ferraris to the same jobs ?

"Shut down schools , its in your best interests "

Yeh right ...

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It's a Thai education thing - the lack of a customer centric system. Schools are there for the employees, not the customers.

 

Many a rural school has bloated administrations and highly paid but, errm, not competent teachers pulling in salaries way above what most foreigners command. (I know someone who cannot have a simple conversation but has been teaching English for decades).

 

The icing on the cake are those 900+ schools without any students!

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