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Most Thai Teachers Fail In Their Own Subjects


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Most Thai teachers fail in their own subjects

BANGKOK (AFP) -- High school test results in Thailand have revealed a failure rate of more than 80 percent in mathematics, biology and computer studies -- among the teachers.

The failure rates for teachers who took exams in their own subjects were about 88 percent for computer studies, 84 percent for mathematics, 86 percent in biology and 71 percent in physics, the education ministry said.

And almost 95 percent of about 37,500 secondary school directors did not score a pass mark in English and technology, according to the ministry.

The poor results have ignited controversy in Thailand about educational standards.

"Even teachers fail, so how can we raise the quality of students?" Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post newspaper.

More than 84,000 teachers and school directors took the exams, the first of their kind.

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2010-06-09

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blind leading the blind

It would be interesting to do the same exercise in other countries. I wonder how many would do any better?

Not that many would pass, if today done hand written tests no computers etc, 2% would be lucky to pass.

Took longer to learn in my day but it stuck!

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There is no national curriculum from what I can gather. Worse, the teachers get to write their own course work.

My wife asked me to help her little sister with some home work. When I saw what her teacher had given her, I couldn't believe it.

This is a mid to high priced School in Bangkok. The English exercises made no sense at all.

When I laughed I seemed to offend.

The usual social rules. "Don't complain, its not polite"

The government could easily adopt a national curriculum from an English speaking country. Its not the teachers fault, in my opinion its the governing body.

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Oh my god. No wonder when I asked peeople in Thailand with 13 years of education

and did not recognise such names as Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Dalai Lama and

Gandi. Could not point where Europe was or where the USA was. Could not tell me

a single planet in the Universe.

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also as it is common culture to give most students a pass even if they did't how many of these teachers had lower marks than were shown here.Yes its a worry...If any body doubts my comment go ask some teachers...

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This report is frankly misleading.

The test that the teachers took (OBEC) was not the same kind of test that is taken by the students (O-NET). It's perfectly possible that the test was particularly difficult, even for experienced teachers. The results are meaningless and the journalism shoddy.

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While the teachers may not be of the highest quality, one should also consider the quality of the tests. I've seen Thai language tests in mathematics and physics. These tests are very difficult, and I went to a top 20 grad school for physics. The level of difficulty of the questions is roughly equivalent to 2nd or 3rd year university, some even higher.

My strong suspicion is that the tests themselves are the largest part of problem. These tests are written by individuals holding PhDs, most of whom obtained their post-baccalaureate credentials abroad. They are out of touch with what a high school level course should consist of. The most able Thai teachers tend to set excruciatingly difficult tests for their students, expecting an average of about 30% and then curving the results.

Edited by way2muchcoffee
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There is no national curriculum from what I can gather. Worse, the teachers get to write their own course work.

My wife asked me to help her little sister with some home work. When I saw what her teacher had given her, I couldn't believe it.

This is a mid to high priced School in Bangkok. The English exercises made no sense at all.

When I laughed I seemed to offend.

The usual social rules. "Don't complain, its not polite"

The government could easily adopt a national curriculum from an English speaking country. Its not the teachers fault, in my opinion its the governing body.

That's not correct. There is in fact a national curriculum. A major revision is being promulgated this term. It is fairly clear for Mathematics and Sciences, but the English Language curriculum is laughable. I believe they modeled the national curriculum from the one used in Singapore. I haven't studied the new curriculum in depth enough to comment at length, but it appears to be very similar to the one used previously, only fleshed out a bit more in the detail.

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When you see results like this you have to ask what was wrong with the test. Many years ago I was talking to a guy who was teaching introductory accounting in English at a newly opened Thai university (St. John's, if it matters). He was telling me the Thai University Affairs Office, which set the curriculum standards, required him to create final exam questions of a level of difficulty he would expect to find on the United States CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam -- an exam taken after a person has studied accounting for four years and worked at least two years in the field. In other words, the people writing the test questions were not trying to discover how much of the material that had been presented to the students they had learned, they were simply trying to create a barrier to success so that the only students who could get a passing grade were those who cheated or those who got favorable treatment one way or another. I'll bet this exam was the same.

By the way, when I was trying to teach high school mathematics in English, I couldn't get a copy of the curriculum in English, so I bought a number of the books students use to cram for the university entrance exams. The topics covered included things like symbolic logic, calculus, and trigonometric equations. Since the school week allowed for four hours a week of study over three years, I can guarantee no students could have learned all that subject matter.

So the problem is with the people making the tests. It may be true that many Thai teachers really do not know their subject matter, but the tests are not properly designed to show that. Any time you have 80% of testees "fail", your criteria for failure are not valid.

Edited by Acharn
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1) Is this for international schools inclusive? or just local Thai schools?

2) Does anyone know the standard for international schools in Thailand? any such test conducted there?

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Also see the article in Newsweek: The Destruction of Thailand's Global Brand - Newsweek

"Thailand's scores on the TOEFL exam, the test of English skills for students heading to university, now consistently rank amongthe lowest in Asia"

Well, I've helped with TOEFL Test Preparation courses, and as a native English speaker I can say TOEFL is not a very good measure of English language ability. A lot of the questions are amusing, though.

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There is no national curriculum from what I can gather. Worse, the teachers get to write their own course work.

My wife asked me to help her little sister with some home work. When I saw what her teacher had given her, I couldn't believe it.

This is a mid to high priced School in Bangkok. The English exercises made no sense at all.

When I laughed I seemed to offend.

The usual social rules. "Don't complain, its not polite"

The government could easily adopt a national curriculum from an English speaking country. Its not the teachers fault, in my opinion its the governing body.

That's not correct. There is in fact a national curriculum. A major revision is being promulgated this term. It is fairly clear for Mathematics and Sciences, but the English Language curriculum is laughable. I believe they modeled the national curriculum from the one used in Singapore. I haven't studied the new curriculum in depth enough to comment at length, but it appears to be very similar to the one used previously, only fleshed out a bit more in the detail.

Yes i was referring to the English Language curriculum.

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There is no national curriculum from what I can gather. Worse, the teachers get to write their own course work.

My wife asked me to help her little sister with some home work. When I saw what her teacher had given her, I couldn't believe it.

This is a mid to high priced School in Bangkok. The English exercises made no sense at all.

When I laughed I seemed to offend.

The usual social rules. "Don't complain, its not polite"

The government could easily adopt a national curriculum from an English speaking country. Its not the teachers fault, in my opinion its the governing body.

That's not correct. There is in fact a national curriculum. A major revision is being promulgated this term. It is fairly clear for Mathematics and Sciences, but the English Language curriculum is laughable. I believe they modeled the national curriculum from the one used in Singapore. I haven't studied the new curriculum in depth enough to comment at length, but it appears to be very similar to the one used previously, only fleshed out a bit more in the detail.

If you are right (and I see no reason you shouldn't be) that's bad news. The Singapore curriculum was prepared by well qualified people for a student population where English is used as a second language by everybody. That is, the students have to use English in their everyday lives. Same as in the Philippines. Thais have no reason to use English, so their exposure to the language is entirely different. The same teaching methods can't be expected to work, and the same level of achievement is really not possible.

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I took a trip recently to visit a mate who is an english teacher (Canadian) in Hat Yai southern Thailand at Songkla University...he's been on the job 3 months sat in his office for several hours whilst he shuttled back and forth to classes...he gave me some of the english test papers (university generated) given to students to complete ...oh my god....unbelievable stuff...totally useless...badly concocted vernacular...sentence construction...shocking.....have a mate in BKK with a thai GF who attends one of the local uni's.....have looked at her test papers as well....same story.....

And I agree with an earlier poster and have even experienced it myself first hand...ask a thai person the following questions...who was Hitler....have we sent a man to the moon.......what are the names of two planets in the solar system...and the cracker of the lot....name two countries that border Thailand...they simply dont know...or I guess more importantly have never been taught...and it doesnt require an english native to teach them those answers....the "educational system" whatever and whoever are the number of cogs turning it is....in Thailand is sadly lacking.

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Oh my god. No wonder when I asked peeople in Thailand with 13 years of education

and did not recognise such names as Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Dalai Lama and

Gandi. Could not point where Europe was or where the USA was. Could not tell me

a single planet in the Universe.

Most can't point to where Thailand is on a map of the world.

It seems to me that if it ain't Thailand it ain't taught, that's why everyone is so nationalistic and farangs are not important.

Most of the well educated attend schools abroad. Singapore, Uk etc.

It's hard to learn when you're not allowed to question.

I'm considering pulling my daughter out of school.

She's been there two years and still can't read numbers 1-10 if you jumble them around.

She can sing plenty of songs though.

It just seems a waste of money to me...

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There is no national curriculum from what I can gather. Worse, the teachers get to write their own course work.

My wife asked me to help her little sister with some home work. When I saw what her teacher had given her, I couldn't believe it.

This is a mid to high priced School in Bangkok. The English exercises made no sense at all.

When I laughed I seemed to offend.

The usual social rules. "Don't complain, its not polite"

The government could easily adopt a national curriculum from an English speaking country. Its not the teachers fault, in my opinion its the governing body.

That's not correct. There is in fact a national curriculum. A major revision is being promulgated this term. It is fairly clear for Mathematics and Sciences, but the English Language curriculum is laughable. I believe they modeled the national curriculum from the one used in Singapore. I haven't studied the new curriculum in depth enough to comment at length, but it appears to be very similar to the one used previously, only fleshed out a bit more in the detail.

If you are right (and I see no reason you shouldn't be) that's bad news. The Singapore curriculum was prepared by well qualified people for a student population where English is used as a second language by everybody. That is, the students have to use English in their everyday lives. Same as in the Philippines. Thais have no reason to use English, so their exposure to the language is entirely different. The same teaching methods can't be expected to work, and the same level of achievement is really not possible.

I have taught English in Thailand and now teach my own subject, Mathematics. The maths syllabus is also laughable. It looks to me as if it was written by a primary school teacher as the Prathom grades are crammed full of stuff whilst the Mathayom syllabus is so full of holes as to be meaningless.

I'm not surprised by the results. The Thai teachers I see seem more concerned with rules and behaviour than them actually knowing their subject. The really deep problem is that nobody is allowed to fail, so most students are deluded in their abilities... until they hit the excessively difficult government exams!! The official state exams look like they've been written by professors trying to show how very clever they are to their university colleagues. Absolute mismatch not just between student knowledge and the exams but between the exams and the syllabus too. In the English exams I've seen there have been on average 2 or 3 serious mistakes too - so not so smartarse professors either!

The one good thing about schools taking real externally marked exams such as the UK or IB is that the syllabus and the exams are clear and there is no way of faking results.

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blind leading the blind

It would be interesting to do the same exercise in other countries. I wonder how many would do any better?

That would largely depend on the country -- but hey, we don't want to go into details (against forum rules...)

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