Obec urged to relax school intake rules

Critics want quotas, donor ban scrapped

Executives of Secondary Educational Service Area Offices in Bangkok have requested that the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) relax its student intake criteria for the next academic year.

They propose allowing schools to once again prioritise the enrolment of children whose parents make frequent contributions to schools, and revoking the rule which forces schools to accept 60% of their students from areas within a specified radius of the school's location.

In the last academic year, Obec changed its student admission criteria by revoking special conditions for the admission of primary and high school students to solve the problem of pae jia, or kickbacks parents give to schools for their students' admission.

One of the revoked conditions for school admissions was that schools can enrol children whose parents make frequent contributions to them.

Obec also created a guideline requiring schools to accept a minimum of 60% of their students from areas within a specified radius of the school's location, in a bid to narrow the quality gap between institutions.

The move was reportedly met with dismay from well-known schools, which worried that they would receive underperforming students who would hurt their academic reputation and prestige.

Tanarat Samakane, deputy director of Bangkok Secondary Educational Service Area Office 1, said the cancellation of special admission conditions has impacted many schools, as they have to seek financial support from temples and surrounding communities instead of relying on pledged donations from parents.

Mr Tanarat said if Obec wants to tackle the problem of tea money, there are other options apart from banning schools from receiving donations from parents.

These could include requiring school directors to declare their assets to avert possible graft, or requiring all donations to be posted on schools' websites so that the donors can see where their money went and how it was spent.

Ratima Panichanurak, director of Bangkok Secondary Educational Service Area Office 2, said Obec should revoke its rule on admitting a minimum percentage of students from surrounding areas.

"In some areas, there are not enough students, so schools cannot fulfil this 60% criteria. This rule needs to be adjusted and schools should be allowed choose their own method of admitting students to match what they and communities want," she said.

When asked about a proposal suggested by some educators that schools should stop offering area-based quotas and only select students through exams, both Mr Tanarat and Ms Ratima said they were against this idea.

It would almost certainly widen inequality, and schools cannot only be places for high-performing students, they said.

 

 

Sources : https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1767794/obec-urged-to-relax-school-intake-rules

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