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Is the Thai education system really a failure?

The first thing that people misunderstand is the intention set by the education system: is it the same everywhere around the world or does it depend of each country? To foreigners and westerners in general, a good education system is an education system that provides and creates a scaffold for self-discipline tools to elaborate critical and free thinking schemes and whatever elevates the “whole child” as an individual within the community and the society. The Thai education system is different and no such goals have been set by the current or any previous governments.

So, from a Western and foreign point of view, the Thai Education System is rather a failure… but is it really?

The hero of the Thai revolution Pridi Banomyong once mentioned that the Thai Education system should be based on the way Buddhism was taught in Thailand “back in the days”. Many educational reforms were implemented by Pridi and his successors which aimed to “modernize” and improve the Thai Education System but were always seen as a “failure” by the international community. However, it only requires a few minutes to look at the impressive resumes of those higher-ups graduated from prestigious American universities such as UC Berkeley, MIT and others to understand that those in charge of the education throughout the country are highly intelligent and far from being ignorant to modern educational thinking.

Therefore, the question that one must ask while assessing the Thai Education System is not how it is comparable to such or such country but rather what are the goals set by the Thai Ministry of Education? Does it stress a creative thinking process and open educational exploration for instance?

It is obvious that if all these objectives tend to be valued by Western and other foreign countries and that they are the primary goals set by respective Ministries of Education, Thailand has a different mapping and vision concerning what is education and what it is intended for.

Memorization of pre-told knowledge as well as social and psychological education for conformity of the mass are the fundamentals, and the only purpose of the controversial Thai Education System is to make good loyal, respectful and obedient subjects and citizens. And regarding this matter Thailand has achieved what no other country has ever been able to achieve in modern history and remains unequaled for more than 70 years of “Thailand”. (Conformity and compliance with a modicum of terror and force.)

We can say that, at the image of the Basenji dog –the genetic heritage that Thai stray dogs belong to and which do not bark but rather make a yodel noise, Thai citizens are educated to behave similarly. Thai citizens do not complain, keep their unhappiness within, quietly, humbly, with respect and obedience — And those who do not do so are simply considered as being “un-Thai.” The same rule applies to Basenjis; should one hear a Basenji dog bark it would just mean that the dog is not a Basenji.

As a result, we get a mass of people that are well behaved, polite, soft-spoken, trouble-free, docile, obedient and always smiling in the “Land of the Smile”.

So, if you think about these criteria, it is clear that the Thai Education System is far from being a failure and that on the contrary it is a frank success!

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