Closed or Merged Small Schools Should be Evaluated

The opposition on the Social Media sites was strong for two reasons. First, the policy is nothing new. It has been implemented over a decade now but the former Education Minister now joined the attack. Second, there are some good reasons, for the sake of our children in rural areas, to support this policy.

The schools with under 60 students is considered a small school and they have very limited resources. There are few teachers teaching at some small schools because there is only one teacher to teach all subjects and conducts all classes for all the students. This basically raised quality problems. According to the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment, up to 32 percent of the small schools have failed quality requirements. Even if the Government is able to provide 12 years of free education, it should come with quality education as well.

As the records show, each of the small schools received a subsidy of 20,000-40,000 Baht every year. This subsidy is not able to support even the standard laboratories in all schools and all the best teaching equipments.

According to reports, Phongthep has already announced that the policy to close down small schools aims to improve the overall educational quality.

He has also explained that not all small schools will be merged or closed down. He has insisted that if there is no nearby school in an area, the small school in that area definitely will not be abolished. He has even pointed out that the Education Ministry will provide travel assistance for children whose schools are closed down under this policy too.

This policy was introduced many years ago and since 2008 there are 700 small schools that were closed or merged. Since this policy was implemented years ago, stakeholders should call for an evaluation of the results on how the policy has been implemented. They should determine what happened to the students with schools that were closed or merged. And the results of this evaluation should determine whether the policy to close down small schools should go ahead, be adjusted or be scrapped.

Anyhow, the Ministry of Education should also show reports on the results of the small schools that were closed or merged or if the academic performances of the students that undergone the policy has improved. And all the stakeholders should support the policy if this really benefits the children in particular.

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