Monthly Archives: May 2011
News has broken today in the Thai newspapers and TV of the mass caning of girls at Angthong College of Dramatic Arts.
The teacher concerned is Mr Phansak Thanpo,
He caned many girls, some of them 57 times, for failing exams.
He has been summoned to the police station but is claiming that no one can touch him and that he will be caning all the girls again on the 31st May 2011.
The school is a dramatic arts college so they are under the regulations of the Ministry of Culture and may not have to abide by Ministry of Education regulations which strictly forbid corporal punishment. This remains to be seen as we do not think this has ever been tested before in court.
However, the Child Protection Act 2005 bans ALL corporal punishment in ALL schools so we cannot see they have a defence.
Directors email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to email her to let her know how you feel.
57 times for failing an exam is not only ridiculous it is inhuman and barbaric in the extreme.
Childline have been notified, as have UNICEF and the Ministry of Education but as yet we are unsure what they can do. We hope that this teacher and this director are charged and get their day in court and then many years in a Thai jail for this terrible crime.
One of the main reasons why teachers continue to abuse students is because they think they will not be reported. Abusive teachers are totally convinced they are immune from the law, and feel safe to continue to abuse.
Most Thai students are too scared to report a teacher for fear of revenge by the teacher and maybe even other teachers at the school. The recent witch hunt at Kanlayanee is a good example where the teachers interviewed many students to find out who had reported Phasuk to Facebook. Students were told they were damaging the schools reputation and would be punished if caught passing information.
Childline Thailand has a direct telephone number where kids can report teachers. The number is confidential and they will NOT give the school the deatils of the informer.
If you are hit by a teacher you can report them to Childine by calling 1387 (from inside Thailand).
They immediately notify both the school and the Ministry of Education and request an investigation. In severe cases they will immediately intervene on behalf of the students.
You can see more on their website Childline Thailand.
We are campaigning to make it compulsory for all schools to put their poster and telephone number on their noticeboards.
A school, or teacher, is reported to the police for hitting a child. They reply by claiming (and often producing) they have a written agreement with parents permitting them to beat the students for misdemeanours.
Every time they do this they are informed that such contracts are illegal and carry no weight.
Despite the laxity of the law in Thailand it is, like most countries, not possible to write a contract that contradicts law. Any contract that contradicts law is VOID. That is the same for any contract about any issue.
Even simple logic says this: you cannot CHOOSE which laws you obey and which you do not. That is anarchy! This particular law is there to protect ALL children. It is not the right of a parent to choose, it is there to protect every Thai child EQUALLY.
The law is simple – any teacher who hits a child is breaking the law and should/will be punished accordingly.
The issue of these “agreements” has been succesfully tested several times. Most notably at Yothinburana School where it was made clear by no less than the Minister herself. Also more recently at Pakpranang where the school tried to hide behind such an agreement only to be told by the investigating police officer that such agreements are unlawful. Nine teachers at that school are now awaiting trial as a result.
So why do they still exist in so many schools? Are school directors really so stupid or are they just ignorant of the law?
The truth is that neither is correct. School directors are VERY aware of the law and its implications. However they are also very aware that they cannot be held personally liable. Because the offence committed is one of “common assault” only the person who does the hitting can currently be prosecuted i.e. the teachers themselves.
So why do directors write these contracts? There can only be two reasons:-
1. They don’t care and consider themselves “above the law”.
2. They “use” the teachers i.e. instruct teachers to abuse children knowing full well they cannot be held personally liable. As in the case at St Marys school Korat where the director just passed the buck to the teacher despite the fact she knew full well that several teachers were regularly abusing students.
So what is the answer? It’s simple.
Make school directors personally liable for the actions of people they employ. If the directors, and not the individual teachers, could be fined and jailed this practice would very rapidly stop. Hit a director where it hurts, in their own pockets, and systematic child abuse by teachers in Thailand would be a thing of the past.
We understand that some (a minority) of the teachers at this school regularly hit the students, especially those in the younger primary age groups. In particular one female teacher, Ms Phasuk (นางผาสุข ถาวร) a P.E teacher at the school.
We are told that the majority of teachers do not hit the children, and indeed that they hate the teachers who do this. However they refuse to do anything to stop it and, in our opinion, this makes them equally guilty by association.
We are also told that the beatings only occur in the Thai Programme and not in the English Programme of the school. However the two programmes are part of the SAME school and therefore, in our opinion, equally guilty for refusing to protect ALL the children in the school.
The school organises regular student exchange schemes to the USA and we are currently finding out who the agencies are in the USA and will be notifying them accordingly.