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LEXICON

 

 

education

The Thai educational system consists of two years of kindergarten called anubahn, six years of elementary or primary school called prathom (fig.), six years of high school divided into three years of junior and three years of senior high school called mathayom ton and mathayom plaay, respectively. Compulsory education starts at the first year of elementary school or prathom 1 and ends at the third grade of junior high school or mathayom 3, thus ‘higher education levels’ start at the first year of senior high school. For education higher than high school there are colleges and universities called mahawithayahlai, and institutes (of higher education) called satahban. Academic degrees or parinyah are a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a  doctor's degree or doctorate and are called parinyah trih, parinyah toh and parinyah aek, respectively. Uniform is obligatory for students in the lower grades and in most schools it is also compulsory in the higher levels. Teachers have beige uniforms with epaulettes showing their rank and degree, which they have to wear on Mondays, the first day of each working week. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, a son of King Mongkut, is considered the founder of the modern Thai education system. Although the country's teaching packages and curricula on offer seem in most cases to be adequate, the overall teaching standards on the other hand are of an appalling quality. According to a governmental survey, over 80 percent of teachers fail in their own subjects, and almost 95 percent of about 37,500 secondary school directors tested, did not score a pass mark in English and technology. With the blind leading the blind, schools often pass unsuccessful students, rather than failing them, just to save face, keep them on board or avoid problems with parents. Students of well-off parents are known to buy their way through school, acquiring their diploma's either through manipulation of power, or corruption. There are also reports of rampant cheating, going from cribbing and students paying others to write a thesis or make a translation, to students using mobile phones during exams. And despite some being caught red-handed, they are seldom punished or failed. This corruption together with the impunity eventually results in a high amount of unskilled people joining the actual workforce, some even at high positions in the community. In addition, most parents hardly ever correct their children, who are considered narak, i.e. ‘lovely’. Overall lack of guidance makes many students hang out on the streets, and especially students of the 700 or so vocational schools in the capital are known to bully and violently attack students of rivaling schools, for no apparent reason other than not belonging to the same school. Many of those carry weapons, anything from knives to guns, and violence often erupts in public places, such as on communal busses. This regularly results in students or innocent bystanders being killed and wounded. Education, in Thai referred to as kaan seuksah, and all matters related to education, are administered by the Krasuang Seuksahthikaan (กระทรวงศึกษาธิการ), i.e. the Ministry of Education, which was established in 1892 (fig.) during the reign of King Rama V, originally under the name Krasuang Thammakaan (กระทรวงธรรมการ), which then also oversaw religion, nursing and museums. Since its name change in 1941, the ministry has been located in Wang Chan Kasem (fig.), a palace mansion in Bangkok's Dusit area (fig.), which was initially intended as a home for Crown Prince Wachirawut, the later King Rama VI. Although the ministry has over time had various logos, some of which were designed by Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong, its current emblem (fig.) consists of the Dhammachakka, i.e. the Buddhist Wheel of Law (fig.), on a bai sema (fig.), i.e. a boundary stone.