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Study Shows Thai Students Poor in Math, Science and Reading



The researcher said that the government policy of using the English language in Thailand still doesn’t have a clear strategy


BANGKOK – Thai students fare poorly in mathematics, science and reading, though their performance shows significant improvement since 2009, according to the latest Programme for International Assessment (PISA 2012) results.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang held a briefing on the PISA 2012 result, surveyed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to evaluate the knowledge and skills of some 6,000 15-year olds across 65 countries worldwide. The evaluation takes place every three years. Thailand has participated in the evaluation since 2000.

The release on Tuesday shows that Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian students scored lower than average in mathematics, science and reading, while those from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Macau performed rather high.

Thailand is ranked 50th for mathematics, 48th for reading, and 50th for science.
Thailand’s mathematical performance is poorer than other Asian countries except Indonesia. The score has improved compared to previous years but half the students still in lower score range.

Thailand’s reading performance has improved from 2009, though the score is still lower than OECD average. The gap between highest and lowest score has narrowed down because those in better range read less.

Six countries in Asia are among the top ten for science. Thailand sees significant improvement since the last evaluation in 2009, though the overall performance is still below average. One third of Thai students have poor understanding of science.

Since 2009, overall performance of those in lower range has improved but still far from excellence. Those of higher range, however, scored rather poor especially in reading.

The minister said he would revise the ministry’s strategies, while setting up a working committee to work on the issue within two weeks.

In Other Related  Education  News;  A recent study measuring the English skills of students in 10 Asian countries ranked Thailand in the middle of the pack. Researchers said the Thai educational system need overhauling. They also suggested that Thai students should learn a second foreign language besides English.

Mr. Anake Permvongsenee, the secretary of Education Council, reported that Thai students ranked 5th among 10 Asian nations in a study that compared the students’ English skills. He added that Vietnam was ranked higher than Thailand.

The study was part of a cooperative venture by Asian countries to compare policies and strategies in teaching foreign languages to students. The study noted fundamental flaws in Thailand’s educational system to teach a foreign language, with problems both inside and outside the system.
Thailand needs to improve the fundamentals of studying and teaching English and other foreign languages in a more systematic way. Related organizations should work together solve this urgent problem, the study stated.

The study also suggested that in the future Thai people should not study only English and Chinese language, but also other Asian languages, especially in neighboring countries. Within the next 20 years, Thai children should be able to speak three foreign languages, the study recommended.

The researcher said that the government policy of using the English language in Thailand still doesn’t have a clear strategy. Mr. Anake said he has talked with the secretary of the committee to develop bureaucratic systems. One proposal is that in the future, both English and Thai language should be included in official documents of all government units.

Mr. Anake will share the study results in future meetings with major educational organizations. The goal is to set up clear objectives for teaching English to Thai children with specific targets to be accomplished.

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