THAI students rank far behind their international peers in the sciences, and not because of a lack of money, but misguided, outdated policies. A recent warning by a US researcher over the academic ability of Thai students, especially in the sciences, deserves special attention from our decision-makers, for it suggests there is something wrong with science teaching in Thailand. Tom Corcoran, co-director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the Teachers’ College of Columbia University, recently said that Thai schools should allocate more study hours to science.

He said Thai students get three classes a week, or 150 minutes, while in most other nations students get science classes every day, amounting to 250 minutes or more each week. …Thai students’ scores in science subjects are simply not as good as they should be, despite the fact that sciences are important subjects in today’s world. In a fiercely competitive education and work environment, we should be giving our students the opportunity to excel and to enable them to compete in a world where creativity and innovation determine the winners and survivors.

…While other East Asian countries have been striving to improve the quality of education, Thai students are held back by low-quality science teaching. Thai students perform either moderately or poorly in international test scores. This is unfortunate, because the government is currently spending about 20 per cent of its total budget on education. The results are nevertheless far from satisfactory. This shows that the money is being either misused or simply squandered. The government also fails to provide enough support for stellar students, to enable them to strive for excellence in their chosen fields. Many Thai students have won awards and medals in international competitions for maths and sciences, but they often run out of energy over the long term because of the lack of opportunities to improve their skills and develop their talent to the fullest degree.—(Sept 11)

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