Thailand’s public education system is rarely held up as a success story. But its woes have become even more acute in the past decade. It faces a host of challenges: inequality, uneven funding and frequent policy changes by the Ministry of Education, and high levels of teacher debt. Guest contributor Mark S. Cogan takes a look at the challenges and the dim chances for improvement.
News of physical abuse of students by teachers is all but commonplace in Isaan and in Thailand more generally. Guest contributor Mark Cogan examines why such abuse is tolerated, arguing that the persistence of such abuse points to larger problems in the education system that trains students (and their parents) to focus more on obedience than learning.
Udorn Thani’s democracy fighters are battling over symbols. Three cherished symbols of the state: the royal portrait, the city’s essential patron saint, and a desecrated flag. Protest leaders say time is on their side and they hope to change this former “Capital of Red Shirts to “the Capital of Democracy.”
The geography and history of freedom fighters set Sakon Nakhon off from the rest of Isaan. Though youth protests have been slow to start and lack some of the vigor seen in other Isaan provinces, Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University, has played an important role in linking the province’s past with the new generation’s protests. (See “Part II: Sakon Nakhon’s rediscovered heroes of democracy” tomorrow.)
At political rallies, Thanawit Sepsuk or “Nick Sarakham,” who is also known as “Nattawut 2,” speaks about the problems faced by people at the grassroots after he was inspired by the red-shirt protests he had attended with his parents as a child. “People at the grassroots have been seen merely as a base of resources that the central government can take away.”
“It’s a lesson learned by the redshirts: it’s always been about the middle class. The thing that other leaders, including the redshirts, that everyone has tried to demand: a good life, rights and equality, that’s it.” said Thanawit Sepsuk, (Comrade Nick) MSU Democracy Front. Series: “The New Generation of Isaan rises up” – We must dare to speak the truth (3)