CHIANG RAI – Schools in Thailand are to end lessons 90 minutes early and let pupils decide how they spend the rest of their day, it’s been reported.
A new initiative being trialled in 3,500 Thai schools means that lessons will end at 14:00, and students will be allowed to choose from a host of extra-curricular activities or even go home, Bangkok-based The Nation newspaper reports. Officials say the scheme is intended to relieve pressure on pupils, and give them a chance to try out the arts, sports, music or vocational training.
Kamol Rod-klai of the Office of the Basic Education Commission hopes that most students will stay in school after formal lessons end. “We want to organise extra activities to develop students’ non-academic skills, both physical and emotional, in addition to intellectual development,” he tells The Nation. “However, if some students need to go home to help their parents, they will be allowed to do so.”
The scheme has not been met with universal approval, however. “It is a dictatorial idea, not reform,” says Sucheep Patthong, president of a school in Thailand’s southern Ranong province. He tells the paper that many students take private tuition in the evenings because they want more academic study, not less. Another school director says her school doesn’t have the staff for diverse activities, but they do have a swimming pool. “How can we arrange swimming time for all the students?” she asks.