Wijit to scrap hi-tech policies of ex-govt
The Education Ministry vowed yesterday to scrap three populist policies floated by the previous administration.
"We will not focus too much on technology and materials. We will focus on substance," Education Minister Wijit Srisa-arn said.
When Thaksin Shinawatra was at the helm, his government promised to procure 250,000 computers along with Internet broadband access for state schools. It also promised to give a low-cost laptop to every primary student.
"We won't request a budget to finance such ideas," Wijit said.
Wijit said high-technology projects should be introduced only when the educational infrastructure was fully in place and the country had an adequate budget.
"Computers can't replace teachers and today many schools are still suffering a serious shortage of teaching staff. Aside from that, computers consume electricity. Look at some 'dream schools'. They tried to get computers and are now worried about electricity costs," the education minister said.
Wijit said his ministry would also halt the Bt2 billion scholarship project, which granted scholarships to 80,000 students from poor families based on essays.
"This project is not a sustainable means to provide educational assistance. We believe it will be better to raise the subsidies to schools for the students' 12 years of free education," he said.
On the Bt2.85 billion project to grant scholarships to children whose families have financial difficulties or disaster-induced consequences, Wijit said his ministry had yet to decided if it should go ahead.
However, he said the "One District, One Scholarship" project would continue with direct funding from the government. Previously, the project was funded by profits from the two- and three-digit state lotteries. But these have been suspended, pending legal changes to the Government Lottery Office Act. The Council of State ruled recently that the lotteries contravened the Act.
To finance the "One District, One Scholarship" project, the Education Ministry had already requested a Bt611-million budget.
Several students granted scholarships have complained they were running out of money overseas and had failed to pay tuition fees by their deadlines.