Rajabath universities are traditionally thought of as second-tier institutions in comparison to elite places of learning like Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Kasetsart and Mahidol universities.
Yet Thailand’s education system is dependent on the army of teaching graduates that Rajabath universities produce every year. Given this crucial role, it is worrying to note just how little government budget is devoted to Rajabath institutes – approximately $223 per student per year, while the autonomous universities receive approximately $2,721 per student. This huge imbalance in funding means that “elite university level quality” cannot be expected from Rajabath education, notes Thai education expert Professor Rattana Lao.
Now, Rajabath universities are facing another challenge after the Education Ministry ordered them to cut their teacher-training degree courses from five years to four. Yet we know that financial shortages and difficult conditions can lead to “managerial creativity along the road”. University authorities must now respond courageously and creatively to the new challenge set. A quick scan of four-year teacher-training operating successfully in other countries should help turn the emerging panic over course scheduling into practical determination to get the job done. Collaboration with managers who implemented those successful courses will help. There is no need to “re-invent the wheel”. Other countries can produce quality teachers over just four years of training. With strong organisation, collaboration and a little creativity, Thailand can follow suit.