Thailand’s Education officials have decided that teacher candidates only need to pass one topic in order to obtain a Teaching license, despite the countries growing need to improve the quality of their educational system.
On March 15, the new system will become operational. Only tests on professional teaching will be given to students and graduates of teacher-training programs who enrolled in higher education between the academic years 2019 and 2022.
Prior to this, tests on four topics—Thai communication, English communication, digital education, and professional teaching—were required of teacher candidates.
If teachers are exclusively evaluated based on their professional techniques, how can we have faith in their quality? questioned Asst Prof Athapol Anunthavorasakul, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at Chulalongkorn University.
The reforms occur at a time when questions about the quality of Thai education are being raised as a result of years of underwhelming results in foreign rankings.
Justification for just one test
The decision to only test future teachers in one subject was decided, according to education minister Treenuch Thienthong, because so many exam takers were unable to achieve a passing score in all four courses.
In 2021, the four-subject rule was implemented, and as a result, more than half of test-takers failed the English Communication section.
The minister said that some university graduates failed the test because their English was simply poor. “We will be depriving them of so many chances if we refuse them a teaching license just because their understanding of English is not up to par.”
Prior to 2021, graduates of accredited teacher preparation schools were not required to pass a test in order to receive a teaching license. As the length of the teaching program was cut from five years to four, the test was implemented.
In an effort to improve teacher quality and academic standards, the teacher training program was first extended from four to five years in 2004.
However, the four-year program was reinstated in 2019, which led to a backlash from students who had spent five years finishing their coursework. Throughout the reduction, some people expressed concern about the caliber of the teachers.
Hence, the four-subject test was developed to evaluate potential teachers.
Three-tiered licensing scheme
According to Thai PBS, Teaching in Thailand is governed and authorized by a specialized agency, like other professions. The Thai Teachers’ Council is in charge of overseeing the industry and issuing teaching licenses.
The one-subject competency test will now be administered to people seeking a license to start a career as a teacher. Yet that’s hardly the only adjustment new teachers must make.
In addition, the council has agreed to implement a new, three-tiered licensing scheme. Graduates of the four-year training program will now receive a Provisional Teaching Certificate under the new system. Nonetheless, they must pass an exam to obtain a B-license, often known as a Basic Professional Teaching Certificate.
They can then submit an application for an A-license or Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate if they have gained sufficient teaching experience to qualify as Professional Level Teachers (K–2 teachers).
“This approach evaluates graduates’ abilities in terms of their internship hours and teacher preparation program. They must be qualified to teach since they have experience doing so. Thus, they are qualified to receive a Temporary Teaching Certificate immediately, according to Dr. Ekachai Keesookpun, a former chair of the council’s professional standards committee.
The Professional Teaching Certificate entitles its holder to apply for a teaching position that is overseen by a qualified educator. The validity of this certificate is two years. It is renewable. However, those who already hold a license can use their experience to obtain a teaching license without passing a test if they have two years of teaching under their belts.
A teaching license is required for all applicants to positions as teachers at government-run educational institutions.
Strategy if students or graduates fail
By altering regulations governing teacher preparation programs and certification criteria, authorities are only shifting the burden to others, according to Athapol.
The only option available to students or recent graduates of teacher preparation programs is to attempt to pass the necessary exams. Others have even enrolled in tutorial courses.
Additionally, only four provinces—Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Songkhla—conduct the examinations. So, making travel arrangements to take the test is more difficult and expensive for people who live or are enrolled in school in different provinces.
“I’ve heard that a lot of them work side jobs while they’re in school to pay for travel expenses. They must retake the test if they don’t pass the first time, he said, until they do. When questioned about the decision to lower the number of subjects assessed, Athapol advised teacher-training programs to reconsider their strategy if their students or graduates fail the four-subject exam.
The academic questioned sharply, “Are you too concentrated on number that you neglect about quality? According to him, teachers’ chances of further development or knowledge expansion are limited if they do not speak English well.
The English test questions are actually not that challenging, according to my kids,” Athapol added.
The one-subject test only applies to students/graduates who enrolled in higher education between the academic years 2019 and 2022, which only serves to further cause uncertainty. A two-subject exam will be given to students who started their studies in the academic year 2023.
They will need to show that they have understanding of Professional Teaching in addition to their major subject. Those who majored in physics, for instance, will take exams in both physics and professional teaching.
According to Athapol, the nation should consider ways to keep teaching talent in the classroom in addition to producing new, high-standard teachers. Many talented people enter the teaching profession, but many soon quit because they can’t stand the way things are done, he claimed.
He continued by saying that many competent instructors he knew who were qualified for teaching positions chose to leave their positions since the current system did not allow them to devote their time to students and to their own professional growth.
“The system frequently places the appropriate person in the incorrect job. For instance, someone with a talent for teaching physics could be given the responsibility of teaching all topics to primary pupils.
Government school instructors frequently complain on social media that they have to spend too much time on responsibilities unrelated to teaching, such as greeting visitors from the education sector or managing administrative duties.