An outgoing School director in Thailand has come under heavy criticism for holding a farewell ceremony in which students were made to prostrate themselves in front of him.
The ceremony took place at School in the central province of Saraburi for a send-off for its director Mr. Natthanan Danupitak. He was been appointed the director of a new School. Several pictures of the ceremony were posted on social media, drawing widespread criticism, before they were removed.
One picture shows Mr. Natthanan seated on a chair in front of the flag pole and a student is seen lying prostrate before him. Another picture shows the director, accompanied by school executives, walking past lines of students, some holding flags and others holding trays of garlands, as if he is inspecting a guard of honour.
The other picture shows students lying prostrate in the front yard of the school.
Mr. Amorn Amornrattananon, an advisor to Deputy Education Minister Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich and an alumnus of the school, wrote in his Facebook Post today that the conduct of the school director was totally unacceptable.
According to Thai PBS he said that he will find out if such a farewell ceremony was the initiative of the director or the school staff, claiming that it was inappropriate.
Dr. Somkiat Osotsapha, former lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, wrote an angry post on his Facebook page today, questioning whether the director was thinking he was some sort of a lord. Whom other people had to kowtow.
He accused the director of ruining the reputation of the school. Instead of holding such a ceremony, he suggested that the new director should have reached out to the students by meeting them in their classrooms.
Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position as a gesture. Typically prostration is distinguished from the lesser acts of bowing or kneeling.
In 2015 a group of Thai students led by activist Netiwit proposed new ways of paying respect to teachers. In order to replace the long-practiced Prostration ceremony which glorifies the importance of hierarchy in Thai society.
“Prostration at the feet is used by people in eight religions to express the utmost respect. It symbolizes fear and acceptance of power– the ultimate form of acceptance.