Author Topic: Private schools on shaky ground  (Read 978 times)

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Offline thaiga

Private schools on shaky ground
« on: January 12, 2015, 12:41:50 PM »
Almost 400 have closed in the past decade; relatives of founders don't want to run them



YEAR AFTER YEAR, Thailand has seen many of its private schools going out of business. And with this trend, there is a possibility that perhaps half - if not more - of existing privately-run schools will shut down in the near future.

Private Education Council president Jirapan Pimpan said there were now about 4,000 private schools in the country and fewer than 1,000 of them were famous.

"So, I must say that some 1,000 or 2,000 schools are at risk of closing down," she said.

It is not an overstatement given that many factors can weaken private schools and encourage their owners to shut them down.

According to Jirapan, the owners of many private schools today are the children or grandchildren of their founders. Among the second- or third-generation owners of such family businesses are those who are not interested in running a school.

That is a reason why nearly 400 private schools have shut down in the past decade.

Another key factor, Jirapan added, was the soaring land price in Bangkok and some other big cities. Owners of many schools have found out that the land their schools are located on can fetch a very good price or have huge commercial value.

The Sesawech Vidhaya School, which is set to close down on April 30, is an example of this worrying trend, Office of Private Education Commission (Opec) secretary-general Bundit Sriputtangul said.

"The heir of the school's late founder wants to use the land plot for another purpose," he said.

Founded in 1973, the Sesawech Vidhaya School sits near a planned Skytrain station. After its founder passed away, the heir has made it clear that the school will be closed, to the dismay of its students and their parents. Some of them are so upset about the news they have petitioned to the Education Ministry.

"We have tried to persuade the heir to keep the school open but we can't force anyone," Bundit said.

He insisted that very few schools went out of business because of financial loss, given that the government provides a subsidy.

"The government is ready to pay

for 100 per cent of the cost of organising educational services," he said.

So far, he said most private schools had decided to take just 70 per cent of the possible subsidy so that they could directly receive the remaining portion of money from |parents.

The government subsidy stands at around Bt10,000 per head at kindergarten level and it can go up to Bt20,979 at vocational level.

"I can tell you that a private school will likely reach the break-even point within five years of their launch if |those in charge have run the school well enough," Bundit said.

Jirapan complained that the government's policy to increase the monthly teacher salary of bachelor-degree holders to Bt15,000 has caused an adverse impact on private schools.

"When the government agrees to pay at that rate, private schools are automatically forced to pay the same rate for teachers who have held a bachelor's degree," she said. "If we don't pay, we will find it hard to attract or retain teachers".

Opec believes that private schools have also suffered brain-drain problems as teachers at small private schools often felt they lacked job security or had to make do with low pay and poor |welfare.

According to veterans in the field, thriving private schools are mostly big and have an efficient management system. Some school chains, for example, have even offered teachers a stake in the business to boost engagement, loyalty and work performance.

Bundit said Opec had been trying to help private schools tackle these problems through various measures.

"We are going to propose that the government increase the subsidy so that the additional amount goes directly to teachers' salaries," he said.

He said Opec, in addition, had been drafting a regulation that would award extra cash to private schools whose educational quality passed a set criteria.

"The criteria includes life skills, language abilities and literacy. This new regulation may take effect as early as May," Bundit said.

Jirapan said that several measures by the government had also adversely affected private schools.

She pointed out that private schools had also suffered from students dropping out to enrol in state schools.

"Many famous state schools have offered many rounds of [student] recruitment," she said. "At some schools, there are also as many as 20 classrooms for Pathom 1, etc. This is in addition to the many special programmes that have been launched."

On top of these factors, Jirapan believes that some private schools have management problems.

"When a school is run as a family business, it lacks clear direction," she said.

"Without efficient management in this regard, schools can't deliver an efficient curriculum."

Although Thailand has seen more than 1,000 private schools open in the past decade, Bundit said the |closure of some 400 schools could not be ignored.

"It should be noted that most schools open in the provinces," he said. "The number of private schools in Bangkok and big cities is shrinking."

The nation
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Offline thaiga

Re: Many teachers trapped in miserable jobs
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2015, 01:56:12 PM »
Many teachers trapped in miserable jobs

EACH YEAR HUNDREDS of private school teachers try to switch jobs because of heavy workloads and little job security or continue to endure difficult working conditions, sometimes being taken advantage of.
Sind, a private school teacher in her 40s, said that she took all the official recruiting examinations but her social science degree was a less-demand field by the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) and she was still waiting for a job in a public school.

Sind recently left a private kindergarten where she taught for over a decade and made less than Bt15,000 a month without welfare.

"I never received the living cost subsidy, which the government gave to ensure private schoolteachers' overall income would be nearly Bt15,000, because the money was all wired to the bank account of the school [kindergarten] owner," she said.

She said that the owner withdrew the money and paid staff in cash and at a lower rate.

No one dared protest, she said, after a teacher was fired for filing a complaint with the educational service area office.

Moreover, Sind said that the owner's ties to local and national politicians meant that teachers were obliged to help woo voters at election time.

"We had to woo voters during weekends. We were made to do so or else we would be accused of not co-operating, or be targeted or made to leave the job," she said, adding that the school never sent teachers to training programmes.

Sind currently works at a private school with good management. She said she was proud of this school, as it only required her to teach, and she also got a bigger cheque.

In a separate case, teachers in Songkhla reportedly filed complaints at the provincial private education office after some private schools withheld part of the Bt10,000 per head retrospect living cost subsidy to teachers.

The schools argued that they had the right to withhold the money.

The government also announced a new salary of Bt14,100 for teachers who completed the Graduate Diploma Programme in Teaching Profession. The old rate was Bt12,480.

Teachers who complete the four-year bachelor degree programme or the equivalent advanced certificate in Buddhist theology are meant to be paid Bt13,300, compared to the old rate of Bt11,680.

More than 100,000 private schoolteachers in the country cover 2.4 million students.

Wan, a teacher in her 50s, recalled how early last year her school said it was closing and promised to pay teachers compensation equivalent to 10 to 13 months salary, in accordance with labour laws, and fears her teaching career will be over when it shuts.

"At my age, what school would recruit me?" she said. "I will have to change to another freelance job, although being a teacher is my passion."

A holder of an education degree majoring in Thai, Wan taught Thai to students for three decades. "I had hoped that this private school would be the place I would work until my retirement," she said.

Wan's story and the negative experiences of many other private school teachers is in sharp contrast to what Private Education Commission head Bundit Sriphutthangkul has said.

He said the government backed private schools and increased teacher salaries so they stayed at one location as long as possible, while continuously developing teacher quality.

The nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

 



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