Mixed reaction to class-hour reduction plan

national September 03, 2015 01:00

By Wisarut Sankhum
The Nation

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Teachers query wisdom behind ending classes early, some welcome changes

SCHOOL EXECUTIVES and teachers have questioned the wisdom of an Education Ministry initiative to significantly cut down on the number of hours primary and junior-secondary students spend in class. 
“It is a dictatorial idea, not reform,” said Sucheep Patthong, president of La-Un Wittayakarn School in Ranong province. 
Newly appointed Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan recently instructed the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) to implement the policy to allow students at more than 3,500 schools across the country to end their classes at 2pm every day, instead of 3.30pm, from November onwards.
The Education Ministry has described the policy as a great idea because it will allow students to enjoy a more diverse education outside the classroom and will give them a happier environment in which to develop. Those working at schools, however, beg to disagree. 
“This policy is not going to solve educational problems. It’s not the right solution,” Sucheep said. He pointed out that many students avail of private tuition in the evenings after school, which reflects the fact that students want to learn academic content, not engage in extracurricular activities. 
Tuanjai Wuskasem, assistant director of Phyathai School in Bangkok, said her school lacked the staff and the facilities to go ahead with such a policy. She pointed out that while Obec boasted about providing students with happy activities such as sport, her school only had one swimming pool. 
“How can we arrange swimming time for all the students?” she asked. 
Paradee Khamma, director of Wat Chana Songkhram School in Bangkok, said her school would definitely not implement this policy, which would initially be implemented on a voluntary basis.
“It’s not possible for parents to pick up their children at about 2pm. They are still working,” Paradee said.
Yupaporn Kruekam, teacher of Ban Nonmuang School in Nong Bua Lamphu province, was reluctant to embrace the policy. “Timetable clashes might occur when this policy is implemented,” she said.
Her school is one of the educational institutes operating under the government’s policy to increase educational opportunities for children. 
“All activities that the school can provide are already provided for children now. This means that when the new policy is introduced, children won’t get anything more than a change in the class schedule,” Yupaporn said. 
But not all school administrators were against the policy. 
Saipetch Pettorom, director of Banlubintararatbamrung School in Nong Bua Lamphu, said the policy would be good for her and her students. As the only teacher in the school, she finds it hard to manage all the class hours. “After-class activities will ease my stress on this part while also benefiting my students,” she pointed out. 
Saipetch said local experts could be invited to help conduct these activities. “It’s a way to promote local wisdom too,” she added. 

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