Thai school exam paper sparks debate on academic freedom

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

A seemingly routine social science exam paper ignited a firestorm of controversy across Thailand, leaving citizens and educators alike questioning the boundaries of academic freedom.

The exam, which tasks students with discussing contentious issues ranging from Thai society and the monarchy to the commercialisation of Buddhism, thrust Wat That Thong High School into the spotlight. But it’s not just the topics at hand that have stirred the pot, it’s the reaction from the authorities that is raising eyebrows.

Songchai Nianhom, head of Por-Por-Sor, raised concerns over national security, demanding to know what students were being taught and how their responses would be handled. Meanwhile, teacher Kaokorn Suksangamkul defended the exam, championing the importance of fostering academic debate and critical thinking among students.

Events took a turn when the Office of the Basic Education Commission intervened, ordering an immediate investigation and the withdrawal of the exam paper. Reports emerge of pressure from the Primary Educational Service Area (PESA) to censor certain phrases from the exam.

Move Forward Party MP Paramee Waijongcharoen weighed in, highlighting the broader issue of academic freedom and the need for schools to embrace diverse perspectives, reported Thai PBS World.

“Children shouldn’t just regurgitate facts, they should learn to analyse and compare.”

In related news, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) initiated an extensive interrogation of candidates for assistant teacher positions at the Primary Educational Service Area Office 2 in Khon Kaen, following allegations of widespread exam fraud.

Investigators have discovered that exam materials were being sold for 600,000 baht each. The probe took place last Tuesday, March 5 at the Learning Promotion Office in Ban Phai district, Khon Kaen.

In other news, the Education Ministry of Thailand is gearing up to introduce the enhanced O-Net Plus exam system, which will rejuvenate equivalency testing and provide a benchmark for assessing teaching quality.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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