I wholeheartedly agree with Chatchawan Thongdeelert’s contention that Obec’s misinformed edict to merge 2,500 small primary schools will, in fact, prove to be detrimental rather than beneficial, regressive not progressive. Once again, autonomous decentralized authority and community decision-making involvement are keys to improved functioning and operational effectiveness in rural areas which need the most assistance but traditionally receive the least tangible support.
It is hoped that Chinnaphat Phumirat and the myopic superior powers that be will objectively review the already announced merger, instead allowing fair-minded public participation reconsideration, featuring freedom of expression input from village leaders, professional educators, parents and students to voice their concerns and choose what works best to meet their wants and needs rather than what’s most expedient from an exclusively Bangkok-centric fiscal viewpoint.
The most durable way to improve small community schools with dwindling enrollment is to narrow the urban/rural gap by broadening the scope from passive theory to active practice, offering hands-on training focusing on technical/agricultural/vocational education and job enhancement alternatives consistent with His Royal Majesty’s sufficiency approach to rural development. Success would depend less on standardized mindset testing, more on know-how readiness, problem-solving savvy, abstract/creative thinking, multilingual/multicultural multiversity and everyday coping and survival skills.
A cooperatively developed curriculum would stress functional communicative competence literacy, basic skills mastery and individualized IT-focused materials within a stimulating, discovery learning environment. In visits to more than 50 up-country schools with fewer than 120 students enrolled, I have personally observed some of the most caring, dedicated teachers who motivate and inspire their respectful students with one-on-one enabling reinforcement in order to become secure, self-confident global citizens.
Dr. Chanchai Prasertson