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Thai PM Orders Students to Spend Less Time Studing and More Time on Critical Thinking



The prime minister had wanted to see Thai students being capable of critical thinking

The Prime Minister wants to see Thai students being capable of critical thinking.

BANGKOK – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has instructed the Ministry of Education to press ahead with the government’s policy for students to spend less time studying textbooks in classrooms but to spend more time on critical thinking and learning, Maj-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the government, said on Sunday.

He noted that the government’s policy was warmly received by many parents of students who wanted to see their kids spend less time studying textbooks in classrooms but spend more time on learning and other activities.

Maj-Gen Sansern said that the prime minister had wanted to see Thai students being capable of critical thinking, pointing out that school administrators, in the past, were not strict enough with their students on promoting critical thinking.

As most schools are due to open on Monday for the next semester, the prime minister has reminded school administrators to pay attention to four main issues: gambling especially football gambling among students especially during the European soccer tournament from June 10-July 10; dengue fever and Zika virus; road accidents; and student brawls, said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dapong Rattanasuwan said starting November 1, some 3,000 selected primary schools will reduce the hours spent in classrooms of primary students by two hours from 8 am to 2 pm instead of 8 am to 4 pm in accordance with a new policy.

Minister Dapong said that the reduction of classroom hours for primary education students was intended to ease the pressure on the students so they will not feel too stressed.

This means primary students will, in the future, spend learning in classrooms six hours a day at most or 840 hours per year instead of eight hours a day or 1,200 hours per year.

Mr Kamon Rodploy, secretary-general of the Office of Basic Primary Education, assured that the cutback in classroom hours would not affect the quality of education of primary students. He cited the cases in the US and Europe where primary students spend 750 hours in classrooms each year.

He made clear that reduction of classroom hours does not necessarily means that students would be allowed to return home two hours earlier but it means they will have more time out of classroom doing other activities.

Minister Dapong admitted that shortening school hours might cause a problem to many working parents who might not be able to leave their offices earlier in order to pick up their children and they might feel more comfortable to have their kids remain at schools until 4 pm as they used to be.

In such a case, he noted that schools should arrange for extra-curriculum activities for the students until the arrival of their parents to pick them up.

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