We at PPT are not education specialists. However, we did see something in a story on Thailand’s poor PISA results.
The story explains how Thailand languishes in the bottom quarter of the 70 countries that have their students tested every three years on science, math and reading. It then asks why Singapore and Vietnam have been successful.
Finally, the story gets to Thailand: what’s wrong? An academic from Chulalongkorn University’s Education Faculty observes that “the PISA results reflect serious disparities between students in well-known schools and students in rural areas.” In other words, a lack of equity.
New Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin “admitted he was also disappointed with the performance of Thai students.” He agreed that the results “reflected a huge gap in ability between students in elite schools and those in underprivileged schools.”
Teerakiat only just got his position. Until a couple of days ago, the Ministry was headed by a general with Teerakiat and another general as deputy ministers. Today, there’s one general as a deputy minister.
Inequality in schools and generals go together.
We say this because Thailand’s elite doesn’t really care about education except as a means for imparting propaganda and instilling notions of hierarchy and order.
The rich don’t send their kids to the average school. They go to expensive schools or get into the top-ranked public schools (which are essentially reserved for the elite). The rich, like the military, prefer average schools to beat hierarchy and order into the population. Most important, they expect the lower classes to be trained to respect and honor their “betters.”
PISA results reflect this desire to control Thailand so that the royalist elite can exploit, dominate and luxuriate.