Education and Knowledge in Thailand: The Quality Controversy


Sous la direction d’Alain Mounier et Phasina Tangchuang

Janvier 2010, Silkworm Books,
364 pages, ISBN : 978-974-9511-85-5


If an observer asked today whether Thailand is becoming a “knowledge-based society”, the reply might be yes—provided that the country continues to invest in the education of her citizens.
Yet the authors of this book take a strongly critical view of Thai education. Investing more money in education is certainly essential, but it will not automatically lead to a knowledge-based society. On the contrary, they say, current changes in policy and approach are actually moving Thai education away from transmitting and producing knowledge and scholarship, away from developing and honing individual abilities to think and learn. This failure parallels world trends: the uncontrolled and unbalanced increase in enrolment; the interference by political and economic interests in the orientation and management of educational institutions; and the commodification of education—in particular, privatisation, internationalisation and vocationalism. These symptoms are diagnostic of the so-called diploma disease which pervades the system. Public policymakers in Thailand are unfortunately too quick to compromise and may be unable to reverse this trajectory.
To overcome obstacles to a quality education, a society must place the transmission and production of knowledge at the core of the educational endeavour, genuinely and authentically, without making concessions to lesser aims and rationales.

This commitment would give present and future Thai students the skills and abilities they need to master their own future and contribute to the destiny of the nation.
The book is a lively interplay between theory and well-documented facts. It offers a quantitative and qualitative analysis which is fundamental to understanding the overall situation of Thai education, to advancing the debate on educational quality and to charting a course for the future. It will appeal widely to educators, students, parents, academics, researchers and policymakers who are concerned about the state of education in Thailand.