Isolated Schools May Not Merge

Due to the isolated locations, the Education Ministry will provide further assistance to small schools that will not be merged with larger ones.

This was discussed during the Education Minister’s visit to a small school in the province, a branch of Pha Khwang Witthaya School. This school only has 39 students. Despite having only 39 students, the school will not be merged as it serves students in an isolated mountainous area. The school’s administrators revealed that they lacked the resources, but stressed it was crucial to keep it open for the students. The Education Ministry will provide the school with more resources for the sake of the students. The school will be equipped with a satellite for distance learning and temporary teachers will be assigned to teach subjects with which local teachers are not so familiar. Locals will also take part in teaching the students in weaving and basketry.

Responding to the opposition against the school-merging policy, Phongthep insisted that it was to improve the quality of education and was not just aimed at closing down small and inefficient schools. However, those schools that could not be merged due to their isolation, would receive assistance from the ministry in the form of educational planning and temporary teachers, who would travel to the schools to teach subjects like mathematics and English.

One of its school branches in Khwae Wuadam, was in a mountainous area where the Karen and Lahu tribes lived. It was too isolated for the students to travel to another school and the parents were also too poor to pay for their children to attend schools further away. The  teachers had to teach students in combined classes with Prathom 5 (Grade 5) and Prathom 6 (Grade 6) studying mathematics together. Five students often had to wait until Prathom 6 students finished their more advanced lessons before joining the class. This meant that the teaching process was much slower than in schools with proper resources. As a result, the school’s national test scores were well below the national average.

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