One reason why the abuse of children in Thai schools continues can be highlighted by the video below from a popular Thai TV series. In the programme the teacher is depicted as a caring and loving teacher. However, as you can see she canes a girl for smoking. Despite the fact that the image they try to portray is that the teacher does this from “love” the FACT is that they openly show a teacher committing a criminal act. Teachers who break the law, for whatever reason, should not be working in our schools.
I cannot for one minute believe that TV and movie producers would show such things if they actually KNEW that she is committing the criminal act of assault under current Thai law. The only conclusion is that they are NOT aware it is illegal. This misconception then filters down to the viewers themselves, both student and parents, who are led to believe that it is not only legal but normal.
The Ministry of Education regulation on haircuts (in government schools) was removed in May 2003, yes thats eight years ago! the new regulation stated it was up to each individual school to set their own rules on the matter.
So, why do some schools still implement this archaic rule as it achieves nothing and does only harm :-
1. It continues to institutionalize some students to ensure they all look the same and restricts individual development.
2. It stigmatizes students in some schools with the label that they are somehow less “worthy” or even “trustworthy” than students at better quality schools.
To give an example, there are five (large) schools in my home town, three government schools and two private schools. Four of the schools do NOT implement the hair cuts and one does. The results are that kids at the haircutting school are made to feel like second class citizens – unable to understand why their peers and friends can be different. Worse still the kids at the school with the haircuts are “identified” as being of lower grade as few parents choose to send kids to this school but often have no choice if they fail to get seats at the others. These kids are also mercilessly laughed at by the kids in the other four schools about their lack of choice. This creates a two tier system where one school is perceived to be of less value than the other four.
In addition, the haircuts are infringing on childrens personal rights outside the classroom and that is something no school or school administrator should have a right to do. It is one thing to force a child to have a short haircut in school but it is an entirely different matter to be forcing them to conform once outside the school gate. This is depriving children of a very basic right to choose.
So why do some schools still do this?
There are several possibilities.
1. Teachers and administrators are simply stuck in the old days and ways. They just don’t understand the damage they are doing by enforcing archaic rules.
2. Administrators (wrongly) believe that “uniformity” is still the best way. They have no training or education themselves about the negative aspects of this practice.
3. Some teachers are simply obsessed with retaining their power and control over the lives of their students.
4. Most likely, the teachers and administrators at these schools don’t actually know that the rule changed, despite it being eight years ago. EVERY teacher we spoke to at the school I mention said they believed it was a national regulation for kids to have these ridiculous haircuts.
A recent study paper by Mahidol University stated that it was vital for the future of the Thai education system that kids be encouraged to develope their individual personalities as the practice of producing automatons was holding back Thai society as a whole.
The answer is simple – someone needs to educate the educators about the harm caused by this practice, especially regarding the social stigmatization of kids at these shools who should be made to feel equal to their friends.
We are all in favour of ensuring “reasonable standards”, indeed the MoE states that the haircuts must be tidy and girls must tie up long hair in pony tails or plaits whist on the school premises.
However there can be no doubt in anyones mind that forcing kids to all look the same stunts their pesonal developement. Any school that still practices this out of date system is doing their students no favours at all.
It is time the law gave appropriate sentences to teachers who break the law. There is no place for mediation between schools and parents to settle these matters, the police must charge them and the judges must deal with them appropriately.
All too often we see teachers walking away free, and even in some cases continuing to work as teachers. See the case of Suwattana Permpool for example. This woman admitted breaking the law for years but she was not even sacked from the school despite the fact that the MoE promised a full investigation.
More recently the events at St Marys College in Nakhon Ratchasima led to three teachers being jailed, but even these were reduced to suspended sentences. Also we have the up coming court case of the teachers at Pakpranang and hopefully they will be dealt with severely.
There is only one way to stop Thai teachers persistently breaking the law and that is to APPLY the law. This means:-
1. The courts apply the law by handing out tough sentences on child abusers.
2. The law take action against schools, school principals and school directors as well as the individual teachers. If directors are held responsible they would stop it.
If these two things were done teachers, and schools, would quickly understand that abusing children, by using violence, will no longer be tolerated and that they will face the ruin of their lives and careers if they continue to do so.
There is a good discussion thread on the ThaiVisa Forum about why Thai teachers are no longer respected.
Basically because they EXPECT to be respected just because they are teachers and so they make little or no effort to actually EARN that respect.
We think Wai Kru Day will be a thing of the past within the next ten years as more and more kids realise that the teachers are not worthy of their respect so refuse to give it.
You can read the full discussion here
Time after time we hear parents complaining that their children are afraid to go to school because they are scared of a particular teacher. Usually these kids have never been hit themselves but they see other kids being abused frequently and this makes them fear school.
Good kids are again losing out because they make excuses to skip school (usually claiming illness) when they have a class with the teacher concerned that day.
Thai teachers should concentrate on these “good” kids and think about the effect they are having on them, their education and their futures.
No child should ever have to learn in fear. Schools should be happy places, not intimidating places kids are too scared to go!
These teachers often believe the children respect them but they need to understand that fear and respect are not the same thing at all.
What part of the word ILLEGAL do Thai teachers and administrators not understand?
You can come up with as many excuses and reasons as you want but it it AGAINST THE LAW for teachers to hit a child in a school in Thailand. This applies to any form of hitting be it hard or soft, with a cane or with a hand, it is ILLEGAL! If you break the law you are committing (or abetting) a crime!
You cannot get around the law by claiming it was “reasonable” or that you have the parents permission, or that the law is flexible etc. The law exists to protect chilren, ALL children equally. NO teacher, school, or parent has the right to choose to ignore the law. Are we a country of laws or are we a country of anarchy?
Most of those teachers who hit always say they do it because the children break the school rules!!
So…………..if a child breaks a “rule” they should be punished (ok we can agree with that) but if a teacher breaks the LAW that is OK?? We don’t think so! Teachers are just as accountable as every other member of society! They are not “special” and they do not have any special status that allows them to pick and choose which laws they obey and which they do not.
On the other hand…………..it is probably a good indicator of the low intelligence level of the abusers that they continue, often openly, to blatantly ignore the laws of our land. After all if they do not understand the meaning of ONE simple word what is the likelihood they understand anything else?
On of the things many teachers in Thailand who discipline children seem to forget is the good kids inthe class. These are the real losers!
If a teacher spends the first 10 minutes of every class disciplining the bad kids, or checking who has not done homework etc, that is 40 hours a year of learning lost to the good kids. Its about time teachers got their priorities right and considered the good kids.
If other kids mis-behave, just remove them from the class and get on with the job of educating those who actually WANT to learn. You are teachers, not pseudo parents or social workers……………so TEACH!