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Topic Summary

Posted by: thaiga
« on: June 18, 2014, 09:25:01 PM »

Focus now on 'smart classrooms'

THE EDUCATION MINISTRY has come up with four options that could be introduced to replace the One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project.

While the ministry is expected to consult authorities and information-technology experts before choosing one of these options next Monday, its work panel disclosed yesterday that the "smart classroom" was the most likely choice.

The other options are smart schools, e-learning, and smart libraries, panel chairman Kamol Rodklai said.

Kamol did not go into details about the choices except for the smart classroom. "Each smart classroom will be equipped with quality tablets, available at between Bt8,000 and Bt9,000 apiece," he said.

He said that if the Bt5.8-billion budget for the OTPC programme were diverted to the smart-classroom project, as many as 15,000 schools would get a smart classroom in the first year of the new project's implementation.

"All schools in the country can get a smart classroom within two years," he said.

Kamol, who is also a deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, said there were more than 30,000 schools in Thailand.

According to Education Ministry permanent secretary Suthasri Wong-samarn, more than half of the 700,000 teachers in the country are over 50, and older teachers generally are not very familiar with modern technology.

"It is agreed that perhaps we should find some other ways to use IT for teaching," she said, referring to her meetings with Admiral Narong Pipattanasai, deputy chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), who oversees her ministry.

OTPC was the brainchild of the previous administration, led by the Pheu Thai Party.

Under the project, all students were supposed to be issued a tablet computer. During the first year of implementation, all Prathom 1 students got their tablets. In the second year, both Prathom 1 and Mathayom 1 students were to be issued the devices. After the junta seized power last month, Narong suggested OTPC should be reviewed.

Kamon suggested that it be scrapped because it was not cost-effective.

"Handing out tablets to every student meant the device was used just one or two hours a day," he said. "Tablets for OTPC were cheap but they also came with low quality."

So far, Kamol said, the NCPO has not decided yet on scrapping OTPC.

"The review was initiated by the 'social psychology' group of the NCPO. The final decision will depend on the NCPO," he said.

The nation
Posted by: thaiga
« on: June 18, 2014, 06:32:36 PM »

If it wants to leave Thailand in better shape, the junta must focus on our failing school system

Cancelling the one-tablet-per-child scheme was a positive move by the junta, but it was just a tiny step if the ultimate goal is to overhaul the education system. Like other populist schemes, the free-tablet policy is merely a symptom of deeper problems that have been crippling the country for years. For genuine education reform, we need bolder efforts that uproot the whole system.

The Bt4-billion budget earmarked for the tablets is now poised to go to new education projects considered more beneficial to students. But this bonus will be short-lived if the military government falls into the same trap as previous administrators. The public is hoping to see a change towards long-term education development. They need a concrete solution that lasts decades rather than a quick fix that only lead to more problems in the future.

There has never been a better chance to revolutionise education. Sweeping changes are made much more easily under authoritarian rule. The past decades have seen a game of musical chairs played at the helm of the Education Ministry. Education has been held hostage to political expediency, with short-term thinking and regular policy upheavals leaving students the victims of substandard schooling.

Having seized power and vowed to facilitate political reform, the junta must address education, a foundation stone for the country. Trying to move forward without education reform would be like counting "two" before "one". Without the bedrock of educated citizens, much-needed political and economic reform will collapse.

The percentage of public funds that Thailand spends on education is said to be among the highest in the world, but we have little to show for it. The lack of correlation between the money spent and the results is a damning illustration of the country's direction-less development. Drastic measures are needed to get the education system back on track. There are flaws at every level, with the crisis centring on the longstanding problem of inadequate quality and quantity of teachers.

Much-praised reforms launched in the 1960s by then-education minister ML Pin Malakul emphasised teacher training. Had Thailand followed that path, our school system would be in much better shape. Instead we are left with, among other things, a yawning gap in the quality of teaching that means students in rural areas continue to lose out.

While training is one aspect we most focus on, teachers' income is also crucial. Underpaid for decades, many of those teaching in our schools have fallen into serious debt. We need to learn from the example of developed countries, where the teaching profession offers good pay and thus draws quality people to the education sector.

Whoever is chosen to head the Education Ministry under the interim government should grab the chance to drastically change the curriculum. Thai education needs changes that address the new conditions of competition and integration we will face as part of the Asean Economic Community to be inaugurated next year. Successive elected governments have failed to improve education because their main focus was on getting re-elected or benefiting the politicians.

The junta can learn plenty from studying the accumulated mistakes of its predecessors, paving the way for an interim government that places education reform at the top of the national agenda. It should grasp this chance to scrap short-term policies aimed at attracting votes or benefiting vested interests. Those in government have preached child-centred education development for decades; now is the time to back those words with actions. There are many downsides to authoritarian government, but one boon is the opportunity to reshape the country's future with positive changes in education.

The nation
Posted by: thaiga
« on: June 16, 2014, 03:41:30 PM »

Military junta scraps children tablet project

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has scrapped the four billion baht tablets for children project for the 2014 fiscal year after seeing it does little to support education, and also is an unnecessary spending of national budget.
The termination of the project came after wide discussion with the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) to revise the project to distribute tablets to students last Friday.

The joint discussion ended with a conclusion that the project does little to support education, and also is considered an unnecessary spending of national budget.

The meeting agreed to shift the spending of the budget for children tablets to other projects instead.

The NCPO tasked 10 government agencies relevant to education to come up with more viable projects for consideration.

However the NCPO agreed to allow the delayed tablet delivery project approved during the  2013 fiscal year to go ahead.

Under the project, the OBEC will purchase tablets to deliver to Mor 1 level education students in Zone 4 covering schools in the North and Northeast regions who have not yet received.

But so far it was delayed after a Chinese supplier failed to supply within the delivery deadline, prompting the OBEC to call new bid, and file legal case against the firm.