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Chaturon wants education reform to be more student-centred

THE COUNTRY'S educational reform must focus on a student-centred approach and decentralisation, caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said yesterday.

"The teaching style in classrooms must change to shift the focus to students," he said. "At the same time, communities should be allowed and encouraged to play a greater role in organising educational services."

Chaturon was speaking at a three-day event called the "Grand Learning Evolution Towards Thailand's Turning Point".

Held by the Quality Learning Foundation (QLF), the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and alliances at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani, the forum wrapped up yesterday. Speakers reported several educational problems in the country.

Chaturon said available records showed thousands of Prathom-3 students were illiterate and hundreds of thousands of Prathom-3 students lacked reading comprehension.

The man at the helm of the Education Ministry recommended an improvement in teaching techniques, books and reading environments. "We must encourage the love for reading as well as analytical thinking," he said.

He also suggested that schools in each area must adjust their services in response to local needs. "Some schools, for example, need to be bilingual. If local children speak Melayu, classes should be conducted in Melayu first and in standard Thai later," Chaturon said.

QLF vice chair Krissanapong Kirtikara said about 10 per cent of underprivileged children did not receive education.

"And there are between 3 million and 5 million underprivileged children in Thailand," he said.

According Krissanapong, a study by the World Bank estimated that the problem of children not attending school restricts Thailand's gross-domestic-product growth by about 3 per cent each year. Krissanapong also lamented that 80 per cent of Thai labourers were unskilled workers.

"It's why Thailand has been a middle-income country for more than 30 years already," he said.

Krissanapong said the skills of labourers reflected the educational problems.

"In 2012, nearly half of Thai students' math scores reached just Level 1 at most schools while the passing grade should be Level 2," he said.




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