Education in deep South in dire need of improvements
The educational system in the three southernmost provinces appears to be steeped in trouble with more than 80 percent of pre-university students dropping out and 33 percent of illiteracy rate among Grade-3 students who can neither read nor write Thai.
The above-mentioned poor educational quality of students in the restive far South was disclosed at a meeting held in Pattani on November 7 by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre and attended by top administrators from the Education and Culture ministries and administrators from educational institutes in the three southernmost provinces.
The followings are some interesting facts about educational system in the region:
Primary educational level for students aged between 6-11, there are altogether 876 state-run schools with 222,186 students and 59 private-run schools with 31,346 students. On top of that, there are 1,666 Islamic schools or Tadika located in masjids with 176,395 students plus 375 Pornoh schools with 34,394 students.
Secondary educational level for students aged 12-18, there are 56 state-run schools with 31,346 students and 158 private schools which offer both normal and Islamic courses with 129,784 students. In addition, there are 44 private-run Islamic religious schools with 3,700 students.
Out of a total of 209,017 students studying Mathayomsueksa and por vor chor (vocational education) levels, only 36,541 manage to further their study at university level and of these, about 11,000 of them are studying in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen and other Islamic countries. This means that more than 160,000 pre-university have dropped out.
More disturbing of the findings is that up to 33.72 percent of students who completed Prathom 3 or Grade 3 can neither read nor write Thai. Worse still, ONET tests of Mathayomsueksa 6 students in five main subjects namely mathamatics, science, social science, Thai and English languages show that their average scores are below standard in all five subjects.
It was observed at the meeting that many of the university dropouts are unemployed and are vulnerable to being tempted to get involved in illegal activities such as drug addiction or drug peddling, contraband smuggling or, worse, joining the insurgency gangs.
Abdul Yasis Yanya, president of the Pornoh school association, said that many student dropouts who finished only Mathayom 3 or Mathayom 6 were sent by their parents to Malaysia to work while there are many others who stay home, unemployed and end up getting involved in illicit drugs.
Mrs Angkana Nukong, director of Jong Hua private school in Pattani, pointed out that there is a serious shortage of teaching staff especially in private schools due to brain drain from private schools to state-run schools.
During the meeting, administrators of Islamic schools have proposed a list of demands to the government which include increased subsidies for Islamic schoolteachers, a welfare fund for southern teachers, upgrading educational quality and creation of private educational development centre.