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New teacher rules reward class time above old academic qualifications


Promotions now linked to experience and consistency of hours of instruction.

THE EDUCATION Ministry has launched a new set of criteria for teachers seeking academic ranks in a bid to bring teachers closer to their students. 
Starting from July 5 this year, teachers who apply for an academic rank will have to demonstrate a lot of time spent teaching – not academic papers – as the main promotion criterion. 

New teacher rules reward class time above old academic qualifications
For example, a teacher who wants to become an “expert-level” teacher must have at least five years of teaching experiences, along with a minimum 4,000 teaching hours over the past five years, and also at least 800 teaching hours per year. 
To move to the next level of “special-expert”, they must have taught for at least 10 years – with 800 teaching hours per annum. 
For a higher rank as a “specialist-level” teacher, 15 years of teaching experiences are required. Teaching hours must also exceed 900 per year. 
The highest academic rank for teachers, the “special-specialist teacher” designation, requires 20 years of teaching experiences, with at least 900 teaching hours yearly.
The change in criteria was introduced in response to a thought-provoking remark of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose passing in 2016 plunged Thailand into deep mourning. 
On July 5, 2012, the King said: “Today, teachers focus on writing dissertations and textbooks to claim pay raises and higher ranks, or to move to new schools. Teachers who are really dedicated to teaching don’t get any reward. So, the system is unfair. 
“We have to change the rules. We should count teaching as good work. 
“Those who teach well, in terms of quality and quantity, should be rewarded.”
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the new criteria for academic ranks took effect on July 5 in remembrance of the guidance of the late King.
So far, he said, teachers who had already prepared academic papers would be allowed to submit their academic writings for consideration for academic-rank promotions. However, that option will end next year. 
The inclusion of academic papers in promotion criteria has long been blamed for diverting teachers’ attention from their students and classrooms. 
In recent decades, critics have said, many teachers have shifted their focus to their own work in order to climb the career ladder when academic ranks were the primary means to career advancement and higher pay.
Special allowances for holders of academic ranks range between Bt3,500 and Bt13,000 a month.
The Education Ministry now employs about 355,000 teachers. Of them, nearly 286,000 hold an academic rank.
Sompong Jitradub, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Education, said the new criteria were improvements on the previous approach.
“The old criteria simply gave weight to documents,” he said. 
Sompong added that he did not see how a teacher’s academic achievement would directly improve teaching quality. 
The Education Ministry has said the new criteria for academic-rank promotion did not focus only on teaching hours, because promoted teachers must also demonstrate that, apart from ethics, they have developed themselves consistently. 
There are now more than 1,400 training courses for teachers to choose from in developing their skills and boosting their performance. 
These courses cover a variety of topics and content, but all are deemed useful for teachers.
In support of teachers, the Education Ministry has even handed out Bt10,000 coupons for teachers to enrol in courses in the 2017 fiscal year. The Bt10,000 budget can be used to cover training, travel expenses and related accommodation. 
Enrolment can be made via the Teachers and Basic Education Personnel Development Bureau’s website. Some 160,605 teachers have registered to date. 
The three most popular courses are the creation of education games based on natural materials; development of quality learning and teaching materials; and English skill development based on virtual reality technology.
A teacher in Surin province said she was keen on enrolling in English language courses in her area but there were no seats left.
“So now, I have to enrol in the course far away from home instead,” she said. 
 A chemistry teacher at a secondary school in Uthai Thani province said she did not have problems with promotions based on the old criteria. 
“But I agree that the new ones are better because teachers’ performance in classrooms will be taken into account,” she said.
She added that she thought the new criteria would also help teachers who were good at teaching, but not at paperwork. 
This expert-level teacher, who is now in the process of seeking a higher academic rank, would like to see the new criteria adjusted a bit. For example, the rules should remove the requirement that teachers must engage in 50 hours of Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings on topics related to their training courses before being certified for academic-rank promotion. 
“At my school, PLC meetings will be held just once a month. Each time, the meetings last for one or two hours only,” she said. 
Pittaya Pirawuttiphan, a special-expert teacher in Nakhon Pathom province, said some teachers were also concerned about the high number of teaching hours. 
“Those who have taught at secondary schools may have problems because they usually teach a specific subject and some subjects may not have many class hours in a week,” she said. 
Saner Sankham, deputy director of a primary educational service area office in Surin province, said some activities conducted by teachers could also qualify as teaching hours – not just the specific act of teaching in class. 
“We are in the process of communicating with teachers and school executives to promote the correct understanding,” he said. 

Published : August 06, 2017

By : CHULARAT SAENGPASSA THE NATION