Educational reform means more control

15 06 2014

Everyone knows that Thailand’s publicly-funded education system is a shambles. Like other parts of the bureaucracy, it has had a “historical mission” that has been to do just two things. First, create a literate workforce that receives instructions and understands how to process them when working for the better classes (who send their children to slightly better private schools or overseas to private training schools for the rich and the political elites). Second, and arguably most importantly, it has been used to indoctrinate “Thainess,” which has involved notions of nation, religion, and most importantly, monarchy.

This “education” has been a work of ideological control and disciplining. Some dictatorships have also used education for social control, yet have also seen education as more generally valuable, and so South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore manipulated and controlled but also developed. In Thailand, the military dictatorships only thought of control. Elected governments, and even the unelected Abhisit Vejjajiva administration thought a bit about educational reform, but didn’t get to far. Probably the minister who thought and cared most about educational reform keeps being arrested and banned

With a brand spanking new military dictatorship, it is back to the past.


The Bangkok Post reports that Office of the Basic Education Commission “has decided to go ahead with plans to teach history intensively and include citizens’ duties in this year’s second semester school curriculum.” Now that seems tame enough, but there’s more. The idea is to “boost patriotism, history will be taught intensively with educational activities, and 40 hours of citizens’ duties will be included at all levels…”. Yes, more of the ideological dominance that has 5-year-olds saluting the flag in assemblies before each day begins, singing “patriotic” songs, being forced into the scouts and so on.

The report says that “[p]rimary school students have to study four subjects from religion, morals and morality, citizens’ duties, culture and life skills, economics, and geography for 80 hours; secondary school students for 120 hours; and higher secondary school students for 240 hours.”

An education boss said “history will be taught more intensively with the focus on Thai history and Thainess.” More and more propaganda.

We note that the Dictator’s alleged composition is already required of students:

We also notice – thanks to a reader – a further trend of the Dictator appearing with child soldiers:

Little soldiers

Reminding us of this from earlier fascist regimes:

Boy soldiers

The Dictator himself spoke about education and declared:

The whole education system must be developed and concentrated on strengthening the pride of Thai history, discipline, morality, ethics, the public interest and the duties of citizenship. Education management should focus on student-oriented rather than material or asset development. Vocational and mechanical education must be developed in order to produce capable students who will become an effective skilled labour force of the country.

So, in effect, its back to the 1960s, when the military was in unchallenged ascendency. Control, training people to know their place, making them “useful” for exploitation by the elite, and so on.



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