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Teaching Profession

Teacher education in Thailand has a long tradition, dating back to 1892 when the first training school for elementary school teachers was founded as part of King Chulalongkorn's reforms. Relative to other countries at its early stage of development, Thailand has a well-educated teaching force. Eighty-six percent of primary school teachers hold a bachelor's degree. Contributing to this achievement was the establishment in the 1960s of teacher training colleges in every other province. With such proximity to remote rural areas, these colleges have been the primary opportunity for social mobility for bright and motivated youth from a rural background. The Thai government also established a special scholarship program for those willing to return to their rural areas after completing their studies in teacher education. As in many countries, a major problem is a failure to attract the most talented and qualified students to faculties of education. Data indicate that the most talented Thais tend to prefer study in fields such as medicine, engineering, or business, primarily because of the prestige and higher earnings in such careers.

There are a total of 114 postsecondary institutions involved in preparing future teachers. Teacher training courses are being primarily offered by faculties of education in 16 public universities, 36 Rajabhat Institutes (RIs) (formerly teacher training colleges), vocational education colleges, physical education colleges, and dramatic and fine arts colleges. The latter types of institutions train vocational teachers. Fourteen public universities offer master's level training in education as do two private universities. Doctoral programs in education are offered by four public universities (Chulalongkorn, Srinkharinwirot, Kasetsart, and Silapakorn).

With so many institutions offering teacher training under different administrative centers, there has been a vast overproduction of those trained in teacher education. As a result, Thailand has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in Asia, especially at the primary school level. Also contributing to this situation is Thailand's remarkable success in family planning and fertility reduction. Population growth is only 0.93 percent per year (estimated for the year 2000). This has resulted in the problem of having many small schools particularly in remote sparsely populated areas. Thailand has also had a tradition of a school in every village, also contributing to small schools and an overly low student-teacher ratio. In negotiations with the Asian Development Bank for social sector funding related to the economic crisis, the Thai government agreed to raise the teacher-student ratio to 25:1 by fiscal year 2002 by strictly controlling the hiring of new primary school teachers. Achievement of this goal should enhance the internal efficiency of Thai education.

While Thailand actually has an adequate number of teachers, there are serious problems related to the allocation and distribution of these teachers. Some areas and provinces have far more teachers than classrooms, while other areas do not have enough teachers to cover all classes, thus, requiring multi-grade teaching, which has adverse effects on educational quality.

Related to the many complex issues related to teacher issues (including traditional pedagogy emphasizing rote memorization of facts), a special Teacher Education Reform Office (TERO) was established in 1997 to examine strategies for enhancing the teaching profession and improving the quality of teaching in Thailand. TERO has also directly assessed the complex problem of the over-production of teacher education graduates who have no prospects for obtaining teaching jobs and has also proposed innovative strategies for upgrading the existing teaching force.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceThailand - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education