The military boot and the middle class II

23 03 2016

It is probably only the lower middle class that sends its kids to public schools, but they are the ones who seek a leg up in the world dominated by royals, military and the Sino-Thai business tycoons.

This means that changes that recentralize education may well be of some concern for them.

Prachatai reports that “[a]mid criticisms of proposals to centralise Thai education via the latest draft charter, the junta leader invoked absolute power to slash local teachers committees and form a national education reform committee.”

To do this, the military junta has again used Article 44 of its interim charter. This article provides dictatorial powers.

The military junta’s intervention centralizes control under a “Regional Education Reform Committee (RERC) with the Minister of Education as the head of the committee and the permanent secretary of the Education Minister as its secretary general,” and dissolves all “district-based primary and secondary school management boards under Office of the Basic Education Commission of Thailand.” It creates provincial level committees.

An academic in the field “decried the orders, reasoning that such orders will not bring about education reform, but will only make it worse.” He added: “It’s like taking a time machine back to 17 years ago…. It’s sad that some people really believe that this centralisation process could bring about education reform.”

Proposals seen in the draft interim charter reduce “free compulsory schooling from 12 years to only nine years.”

“Reform” under the military dictatorship means returning the country to the past. Education is no different. In fact, for the junta and its supporters, public education is about creating a class of obedient and unthinking slaves to the elite.

For those pushing up into the middle class, education for children is one of the few avenues out of relative poverty. These changes mean their children are condemned to not just a poor education but a more expensive education.