THE NATIONAL Teachers Day has again highlighted the importance of the 400,000 people tasked with educating children to ensure a good future, and has also brought to notice problems in the education system and the dire need for adjustments.
Though the day is normally marked on January 16, the Education Ministry has this year decided to turn it into a three-day event.
“Even in the age of technology, AI [artificial intelligence] can’t replace teachers,” Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said this week. “Technology is just a tool in the teaching and learning process.”
Thailand currently has more than 400,000 teachers plus 250,000 educational staff.
In a bid to improve the quality of both teachers and working conditions, Teerakiat said his ministry has amended teachers’ promotion criteria.
“Launched in July 2017, the new criteria means less paperwork and more time with children,” he said.
Earlier this year, he also cancelled the need for teachers to present a log of their work to boost their academic ranking.
Under his leadership, the Educa-tion Ministry has started handing out coupons that teachers can redeem for training. More than 360,000 teachers have registered for these coupons, with more than 90 per cent saying they were satisfied with the state-provided support, he said.
“We also earmarked more than Bt2 billion late last year for school administrative staff and janitors. This way, we can reduce the workload of teachers who have to handle administrative and cleaning tasks,” he said.
Sirapach Rapeepatanawong, director of Sakhon Nakhon’s Banchiang-suerajumnuai School, said the budget for janitors and administrative staff was a boon. “It gives teachers more time to take care of students,” she said.
Olarn Boonmee, also a school director, agreed, saying teachers can focus on students fully when their burdens are eased.
To mark National Teachers Day, those in the job also reflected on their duties and their need to keep pace with the rest of the world. “Nowadays, we need to get students to learn through practice and experiments. We can’t expect them to just listen to lectures,” science teacher Somporn Wichai-prasert said.
He added that teachers need to find new tools, new technology and even social media such as YouTube to help impart knowledge in classrooms.
Somporn believes it is every teacher’s duty to guide students both in learning and in life.
Krissana Wongrin, a music teacher in Chiang Mai, said people in the teaching profession should understand the change in children’s behaviour and interests. “Only when we understand them can we prepare proper lessons,” he said.
Though music is not a main subject, Krissana said music lessons help with analytical and systematic thinking and also boosts teamwork.