Thailand’s Education Ministry has admitted that a proposed plan to merge 5,447 small-sized schools into larger ones over the next three years is worrying. Acknowledging that many teachers, students and also parents will be affected.
The mergers are part of the past Junta government’s education reform package. They have have already won approval from the cabinet and are due to go ahead next year.
The Federation of Teachers Associations of Thailand plans to unite teachers from across the country to submit its petition to various House committees as well as the Education Ministry tomorrow, said Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan.
The group is calling on the House committees and the ministry to suspend the cabinet’s resolution to proceed. Until there is a clear plan to mitigate the negative impact on the schools, teachers and students, said the minister.
“I’m more concerned about the low ratio of teachers to students, which is a key factor in ensuring the quality of education,” he told the Bangkok Post.
Merger plan worries parents
He said he is now focusing on first speeding up the development of more than 3,000 small schools. These schools aren’t suitable for being merged to ensure their teaching quality.
Of the 5,447 schools to be merged, 1,398 are to be merged into larger schools next year; another 2,963 in 2021 and the rest in 2022, said the minister. Citing the latest version of the plan reported to him recently by permanent secretary for education Prasoet Bunruang.
The plan has prompted worries among teachers and school administrators at small schools. Above all about how the schools will be run after the merger, he said.
School teachers and parents concerns of the affected students over having to travel further to a new location after the merger, wouldn’t be a huge burden the minister said.