We have a crisis: People need to stand up and fight for better education
If Thailand's education system was compared to a patient, it would be someone in a coma. The system is failing and it looks set to succumb at any minute.
Do you agree with this evaluation? My guess a resounding "yes" is the answer. I am convinced that none of us could fail to notice that Thai education has so many major flaws.
Some stakeholders have lost all hope in the government, to a point that they no longer care anymore about policies issued by the Ministry of Education. They have simply explored other alternatives, many of which are made available by private or non-government sectors.
The rich, of course, have choices. They can send their children to top-quality schools, bilingual or even international schools. The middle class can send their children to tutorial schools too when they feel the services provided under the government's so-called "12 years of free education for all" are inadequate.
Individually, parents have searched for the best teaching and learning environment they can afford for their children. Highly-educated parents, who can afford to do it, have even provided home-schooling.
From my viewpoint, they have their children's best interests in mind. But have they thought about the bigger picture? Have they ever paused to think about the many other parents who will not have choices?
I wish all Thais would realise the country's education is in a crisis and coping with a potential disaster of this scale - just like the severe flooding last year - needs the collaboration of all.
If we all do not step up to provide help, the damage will be massive.
Parents, or the people's sector, should not just look on as the country's education system deteriorates into an increasingly poor condition.
The people's and non-government sectors need to speak up to pressure the government to do what it should - improve the quality of the country's educational services for the future of children and Thai society itself.
Politicians at the helm of the Education Ministry have proven they are placing their political interest before anything. They have focused on populist policies in a bid to shore up their political-support base. They have sold attention-catching polices to make their names remembered. They have not really made efforts to focus on the implementation of educational polices that will benefit the children and the country in the long run.
During the past many years, Thai administrations allocated a huge amount to the education sector. However, no real achievement has been made because the quality of education has not really improved.
The average low scores of Thai students in the Ordinary National Educational Test and General Aptitude Test have told it all.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Development Centre, the challenges that Thailand faced - last year and this year - to develop our human capital and labour market are to improve the outcome of education and reduce urban-rural disparity.
Has the Thai government really listened? "No" is the apparent answer.
Since the current administration, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, came to power last August, no educational-reform meeting has been held.
Therefore, it is high time the people's and private sectors act to press for what they want to get from the country's educational services.
By doing nothing, employers will find it hard to uncover quality human resources to run and expand their businesses.
By doing nothing, parents will find it hard to find good schools for their children. Without good education, Thai society will find it hard to solve the many problems facing it today - crimes, poverty, social injustice and economic injustice and so on. Because the educational quality today has reached a crisis, all stakeholders must jump in and tackle this crisis.
Parents, employers, educators, academics, politicians from the opposition parties, must come forward and push for improvement in Thailand's education. Please don't stay silent. I am calling on you, all stakeholders, to criticise and press for better educational services.
Only through their voice and through their collaboration will Thailand have a chance of beating this educational crisis.
Learning scientist, Computer Engineering Department,
King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi