Chalam Attatham, 55, is the director of the Phuket Primary Educational Service Area Office. He received a master’s in education from Srinakharinwirot University and a master’s in educational administration from Thaksin University. Before taking up his post in Phuket two years ago, Mr Chalam held the same position, but in Phattalung.
Here, he discusses the importance of education, its funding as well as some of the biggest issues that Phuket students face in an ever-changing, technology-dependent society.
PHUKET: Education is the bedrock of a well-developed nation. Strong people build a nation, and a good educational system builds strong people. This is why it is important that education is given a large share of the nation’s budget.
We won’t be sure exactly how much our office will receive until October 1. However, the money allocated to us by the Education Ministry is not the only money we obtain. We are also granted a budget from the Office of the Basic Education Commission.
We use our budget to fund two types of campaigns: national and local. The Education Ministry will hand down certain campaigns that we are obliged to follow, but we can also pursue our own projects.
There are three main areas where we need to see immediate improvement among students and educators: language and communication; analytical appraisal; and career planning.
We have found that many primary school students are unable to read and write properly in Thai.
We plan to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with each local school, which will allow us to use our resources to develop an end-of-term test that all students must pass before they progress to the next grade. This will help teachers to recognize which students need extra help before they move on.
Systematic thinking skills are another problem. We have found that many students need to improve their creative thinking, analytical thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The development of these skills is hindered by the internet and the access students have to the superfluous information it provides.
Students are relying too much on the internet to find the answers, rather than trusting in their own knowledge or that of their teachers. They are not thinking in depth, and in the long run, this will impede their progress. It’s here we need to see some changes.
In this age of advanced technology, the world is at our doorstep – and it’s one that is constantly changing and evolving.
If educators are unable to keep up, then it will be our students who suffer. Everything students seem to need is now online.
However, not everything online can be trusted. Students are not aware of this, so teachers need to guide them in the right direction.
The last, and I think the most important, issue is making sure we provide students with the skills to build successful careers.
A lot of students are unable to finish school. I think this is because there are not enough career specialists on hand to help them decide what they want to do after they leave school, or when they go on to higher education.
We plan to provide specialists in schools that can guide students in the right direction and provide them with the information they need for personal development.
However, to make these projects come to life, we must have the cooperation of all parties: teachers, students and parents. We all need to be on the same page.
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