Special teacher degrees at ten Rajabhat universities

national August 24, 2015 01:00

By Kantamanee Baingern,
Sirin Sa

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Five-year initiative aims to create happy learners at happy schools, involves collaboration with the teachers council, Thai-health and institute for research on the education system

THIS YEAR, 10 Rajabhat universities have started an initiative to produce a new breed of teacher.
The initiative, which will continue till 2019, seeks to ensure that graduates from special teacher-education programmes will be up to the standard laid down by the Teachers Council of Thailand. 
The Rajabhat universities have undertaken the five-year project in collaboration with the Secretariat Office of the Teachers Council of Thailand, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) and the Institute for Research on the Education System (IRES). 
“Each participating university has chosen a different special programme, such as one about science, one about primary education, one about Thai language, and one about computers,” said IRES president Assoc Prof Dr Prawit Erawan, who is also a lecturer at Maha Sarakham University’s Faculty of Education.
His institution has joined the 10 Rajabhat universities participating in the initiative. They are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Maha Sarakham, Loei, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rajanagarindra, Muban Chom Bueng, Phuket, and Surat Thani.
The special teacher-education course at each of these universities has accepted just 30 students. The course is also based on the Sukhaphawa (wellness) schools, which are supported by ThaiHealth.
These schools focus on creating happy learners, happy schools, a happy environment, a happy family and a happy community. 
“There are several differences between our initiative and the old methods. The former one was a content-based curriculum, merely concentrated on teachers’ knowledge and integration in subject matter, whereas the updated version is a competency – and skill-building-based curriculum.
“In other words, this new syllabus aims to produce masters of the specific academic subject and teaching techniques that also have the teaching spirit. Students in our special teacher-education programme will get opportunities to strengthen and deepen their teaching skills and performance in actual schools throughout a period of five years,” Prawit said.
Dr Poramin Aridech, dean of Chiang Rai Rajabhat University’s Faculty of Education, said the new special programme was different from the old ones in that capabilities would be the highlight. 
“Simply put, we aim to produce students with efficient skills and knowledge to truly become teachers,” said the dean.
Assoc Prof Dr Banjong Jaroensuk, dean of Surat Thani Rajabhat University’s Faculty of Education, said that for the new version of class duration, classroom time would be reduced so as to provide more time for practice. 
“The old syllabus usually |teaches students four years straight and requires them to become teacher interns for only one year,” he said. 
His faculty will start including English as part of its entrance exam next year, in order to familiarise students with the language. 
“We want to produce students who are excellent at both teaching skills and languages,” he stressed. 
Meanwhile, Loei Rajabhat University’s Faculty of Education dean, Asst Prof Pradit Wichai, said all applicants to his faculty must have a grade point average of at least 2.5.
He also explained that his faculty did not offer any scholarship or job guarantee.
The number of graduates from the country’s teacher-education programme stood at 61,000 this year.
Since 2010, the number of fresh graduates from the field has been no fewer than 50,000 annually, raising concerns that graduates with teaching degrees will have difficulty finding a teaching job. 
Just a little over 10,000 teacher positions are available in the government sector each year. 
If graduates from the field cannot land teaching jobs, they will end up either unemployed or working in jobs where their capabilities are not put to the utmost use, and their productivity can be affected. 
Teacher-producing universities will soon need to address the issue and try harder to ensure that supply matches demand, according to a number of sources. 

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