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Students gather at Education Ministry, issue ultimatum

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Another recent student protest -AP/Sakchai Lalit

“Thai education has made us puppets. We are not robots of the system; we are the youth and have the right to express ourselves.”

The Education Ministry in Bangkok has been chosen as the stage for another student rally, with around 300 young people, from 50 schools, gathering there yesterday afternoon. The students have been repeating their 3 key demands, and saying Education Minister, Nataphol Teepsuwan, must go if he cannot grant them. The demands include an end to the harassment of students, the abolition of outdated school and university regulations (including haircut guidelines), and reform of the country’s education system.

Addressing the second and third demands, the students say they’re fed up conforming to regulations they had no say in creating, adding that the current education system and teaching methods are outdated.

“We should have the right to dress the way we want because it doesn’t affect our ability to learn in any way. We’re in a system where we’re programmed to obey. Today we come to demand things that we should have had because of the flaws at the ministry.”

One student, 18 year old Supicha Chailom, criticises the current system and the restrictions placed on students.

“Thai education has made us puppets. We are not robots of the system; we are the youth and have the right to express ourselves.”

The students wore the customary white ribbons, a symbol of ongoing anti-government protests, and blew whistles to mock the Education Minister, whose former party, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, is known for blowing whistles to shame those it objected to.

The Bangkok Post reports that the students also used speakers to play a modified version of a traditional song known as “Children, Good Children”, which praises 10 good qualities required of young people.

In the revised version, the lyrics became “Adults, Good Adults”, with a list of 10 qualities required of adults, including valuing other human beings, listening to the younger generation, not limiting experiences, respecting those with other views, and learning to apologise.

Some speakers warned the media about using the photographs of those in attendance, pointing out that many young people were there without their parents’ knowledge. Another speaker criticised teachers for abusing their power.

“They always claim students who are beaten are less than 1%, which is not true. Some even persuaded students to have sex in exchange for good grades. And they are teachers under the ministry.”

The students summoned the Education Minister to come talk with them by blowing their whistles at 5pm, after which Nataphol spoke with a group of students, and later addressed reporters, saying he respected the rights of the young protesters.

“The issues that the youth raised are things we can come to an understanding on as long as we respect each other and the rules.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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