Friday, March 30, 2007

Bangkok Post: Class Sizes at Popular Schools Will Increase by 10% to Accomodate the Big Shots

Class sizes increase to help patrons

Bangkok Post

Schools regard govt policy as impractical


Several top public schools plan to increase class sizes for Mathayom Suksa 1 students to take the children of school patrons, after the Education Ministry abolished the patrons' quota.

Prakasit Youngkhong, director of Thepsirin school, said it would increase the number of Mathayom Suksa 1 (Grade 7) students so it could accept the children of its patrons, including senior monks of Wat Thepsirin and members of the school alumni association and teachers and parents association.

The increase would also cover the children of teachers at Thepsirin school and nearby Saipanya school, he added.

The number of students per classroom would be increased from 40 to 45-50.

The school would have 10 classrooms for Mathayom Suksa 1 students, he said.

''We need to extend class sizes to accommodate the children of school patrons, after the 5% school patron quota was abolished by the education minister.

''The no-patrons' children policy is impractical as several schools have established close ties with their patrons who financially support school developments.

''What we can do is to guarantee that we will not demand tea money from our patrons in exchange for seats.

''We will grant seats only to children of those who have helped the school for a long period,'' said Mr Prakasit.

The school will set up a panel comprising senior monks from Wat Thepsirin and members of the teachers and parents association to select children of school patrons, to ensure transparency in the selection process, he said.

The ministry's policy to scrap the admission quota, which reserves seats for children of politicians and wealthy patrons at famous schools, helped reduce pressure from politicians and senior education officials who were not school patrons, said Mr Prakasit.

Somchai Chaopanit, director of Surasak Montri school, said it previously provided a 5% quota for children of military officers who supported it.

As the ministry has scrapped the patron quota, the school would increase class sizes from 40 to up to 50 students per classroom, depending on the number of patrons' children and students who lack places to study.

The school has set its own criteria to select those students.

It will consider students' exam scores, special talents and the location of their homes, which must be in the school neighbourhood.

Their financial status and the amount of cash donations would not be considered, he said.

Education Minister Wijit Srisa-arn said secondary schools could extend class sizes where necessary.

School directors have the authority to approve a class size of up to 45 students.

The directors are required to seek permission from an educational zone supervising them if the number of students per classroom reaches 45-50, and from the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) for a class of more than 50 students, said Mr Wijit, adding he did not support schools opening new classrooms.

Obec secretary-general Khunying Kasama Voravan na Ayudhya said two or three schools in Bangkok had sought permission to open more classrooms, but the commission has not yet approved the requests.

However, she said new classrooms could be opened if educational zones supplied clear evidence showing that there were no schools in their jurisdiction areas that could provide seats for students in the zones.

The admission of students for new classrooms must be transparent.

Starting from April 1, parents of students who did not pass recent entrance exams to win seats at schools of their choice, or who failed to get a place after the drawing of lots, could contact educational zones in their areas to find schools for their children, she said.

The drawing of lots for students living in school catchment areas will be carried out on April 1.

There is something outrageous about increasing the class size of good schools in order to accommodate the big shots, who will brag to all their big shots friends about the great school they were able to bully themselves into. In typical Thai fashion, these big shots don't seem to get that by increasing the class sizes they are lowering the quality of education for their own children. But why bother with the actual education when you got bragging rights to the brand name school instead.

Why is that we have all the yentas at the culture ministry yapping on and on about the evils of western influences, yet they never seem to harp on those aspects of Thai culture, like patron-client relationships and corruption, that serve nobody except a few assholes at the very top of society. But, then, why would those yentas complain about themselves since they are part of that asshole elite.

50 kids to a classroom? Any teachers read this blog? Why don't you protest this? Teaching is a tough job. Why don't you guys get organized politically and resist these extra burdens?

If you have any teaching in Thailand has "jumped the shark" stories, let me know. I'm willing to link to them.

1 comment:

fall said...

What the hell?
It's like making 2-digit lottery legal, only this is worst.

Abolishing tea money might be impractical, but it does mean "tea money" itself is practical. The practice should be STOP, not freaking encourage and open to auction.

Or at worst, make it transparent auction, open-price bidding. Make it clear in the open how much you actually paid to school, not the director and teachers.