Teachers 'must focus more on teaching, less on school duties'

Teachers 'must focus more on teaching, less on school duties'

International experts have pointed out what they call one of the major roadblocks to the development of Thailand's education system - the practice of teachers focusing on other tasks, rather than teaching their students.

Some have also encouraged higher teacher salaries to encourage more young people to join and lift standards of the teaching profession.

Aksorn Education Company Ltd, chief executive officer Tawan Dhevaaksorn, expressed worries that Thai teachers spend too much time doing performance assessments and not teaching, which should be their priority.

"This issue definitely needs to be changed - in which teachers should be able to dedicate their time to teaching their classes," he said.

He was speaking at a symposium entitled " Step toward success in educational institute management in the 21st century", hosted by Aksorn Education Co, Siam Cement Group (SCG) and the Faculty of Education at Chulalongkorn University.

According to a study carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Thailand scored 98 per cent - out of an 86 per cent global average - on teachers' ability to write the specifications of a school curriculum and educational goals.

Tawan said the government must have a clear vision on educational reform, which would make teachers more aware of their roles to boost the direction of the country's educational system.

The dean of Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Education Bancha Chalapirom echoed Tawan's comments. He said it was vital to lower unnecessary tasks for teachers such as arranging school activities, and focusing more on teaching.

"The government should eradicate their policies on promoting activities such as high school rallies because it intervenes with the school teaching performance," he said.

Hong Kong research chair professor of leadership and change, Yin Cheong Cheng, said making education more appealing, so young people want to become teachers is a vital component for teacher development.

Cheng said that rising salaries for young people would encourage them to join the teaching profession, adding that many countries that manage to improve their education systems do this.

For example, the starting salary of teachers in South Korea stands at 141 per cent of GDP, while Hong Kong at 97 per cent and Singapore and Finland stand at 95 per cent respectively.

He said another area to stabilise a nation's education is upgrading the condition of teachers in a society, which would encourage them to stay in the job.

"Empowering the importance of a teacher's role would make them feel valued in what they do. This would make them stay in their career long-term," he said.

The president of South Korea's educational development institute, Sun-Geun Baek, told of progress in its education development from time to time.

In the past, he said, the government cancelled the entrance system in high schools to reduce the number of students entering tutorial schools.

The government also distributed digital textbooks, e-books intended to serve as text, to elementary schools. This helped students access innovative technology more easily.

He said the government had recently launched an education policy called " happy education ". The idea would scrap measuring of student success only in terms of academic performance, and allow them to pursue other areas such as music and the arts.

This included "free semester" projects which allowed students to make choices to study the subjects they are interested in without taking examinations, he said.

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