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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    'Our first dictatorship is school': Thai kids revolt

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Wearing white ribbons, publicly hacking off their hair and making “Hunger Games” salutes - Thailand’s high school students are doing their best to shake up the country’s rigid education system.

    As university students stage weeks of high-profile campus protests for democracy, their younger brethren are advancing their own rebellion to Thailand’s establishment.


    “There’s a viral saying that ‘our first dictatorship is school’,” 17-year old Peka Loetparisanyu told Reuters at her apartment.


    “They are trying instill in us that we are only the little people in an authoritarian society,” Loetparisanyu said. “This means that a lot of our rights have been violated.”


    The movement sweeping through Thai high schools has been dubbed “Bad Student” by its leaders. Its namesake is a book written by university student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal about his experiences in high school titled “A Bad Student in an Excellent Education System.”

    As well as supporting the broader aims of the anti-government protests, the high school movement is targeted at gaining self-expression for students via the abolition of rules they deem as archiac.


    Traditionalism runs through Thailand’s education system. The royal anthem is played at morning assemblies, uniform and deportment rules are strict and students are expected to be unquestioning of authority.


    Critics say the school system is aimed at compliance more than education. Global scores compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for 2018 show Thailand far behind top performer Singapore and also lagging neighbouring Malaysia in reading, maths and science.


    Still, conservatives were furious last month when some students wore white ribbons and raised three-finger “Hunger Games” salutes during the morning anthem recital to support the pro-democracy movement. The salute has been a symbol of calls for democracy since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first took power in a 2014 coup. The white ribbons represent the purity of the students.

    Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan earlier this year bowed to demands by students to relax the rules that prescribe specific hair length and styles for male and female students.


    But Nataphol said more discussion was needed on calls to abolish uniforms and other major changes.


    “I don’t think the students are my opponents,” he told Reuters. “I feel that by listening to them, I’m giving them an opportunity to voice their concern safely.”

    Fifteen-year-old Benjamaporn Nivas became one of the first faces of the ‘Bad Student’ movement when she sat in public places with a sign around her neck inviting passersby to cut her hair as symbolic ‘punishment’ for infringing the haircut rule.

    She’s now set her sights on further reform.


    “They should revoke all the outdated rules, not just that one,” she told Reuters. “Those rules shouldn’t exist in the first place. They violate our human rights.”


    '''Our first dictatorship is school''': Thai kids revolt | Reuters

  2. #2
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    “There’s a viral saying that ‘our first dictatorship is school’,” 17-year old Peka Loetparisanyu told Reuters at her apartment.

    “They are trying instill in us that we are only the little people in an authoritarian society,” Loetparisanyu said. “This means that a lot of our rights have been violated.”
    Schools certainly try to instill what "society" deems is important, but so do parents. And if Thai youngesters want a less authoriatrian/little people-big people society, they'll have to convince an awful lot of the "big" people - everyone older than the students - of the need for change and then get them to actually change. That's a big ask.

    They might want to consider a change is the "wai" system too. Make the height the hands in the wai are raised the same height for everyone rather than different heights for people of different ages and social positions.
    Nev has style

  3. #3
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    Schools certainly try to instill what "society" deems is important, but so do parents. And if Thai youngesters want a less authoriatrian/little people-big people society, they'll have to convince an awful lot of the "big" people - everyone older than the students - of the need for change and then get them to actually change. That's a big ask.

    They might want to consider a change is the "wai" system too. Make the height the hands in the wai are raised the same height for everyone rather than different heights for people of different ages and social positions.

    The cultural traditions/mindsets aren't gonna change any time soon.
    Hardwired is a very difficult obstacle.

  4. #4
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Then when they've sorted the wai they can work on honorifics, then...

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat
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    Critical thinking has come to Thailand. The dinosaurs worst nightmare. Decades spent suppressing it. To make it worse its teenagers. Ever had one?

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
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    Aren't Aging vaginas kids far away in USA?

    Jeez to think Thai kids thinking hey,what next they want a better life.

    My son is telling me,his teachers are now speaking about Thai politics to students,which surprised me........

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuangLao View Post
    The cultural traditions/mindsets aren't gonna change any time soon.
    ...in one of my first classes at a local university, students would approach my desk and kneel on the floor to ask a question. I put a stop to that immediately and was gratified to see that older students had left that bit of ingrained feudal behavior behind...

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Thailand’s ‘Bad Students’ Rise Up to Demand Democracy, Education Reform

    The youth-led pro-democracy protests in Thailand since July have inspired hundreds of even younger Thais – high school students – to voice their concerns about the education system, which they describe as oppressive, unimaginative, and hidebound.


    These high schoolers, ranging from 13 to 17 years old, ironically call themselves “Bad Students,” because they say they aren’t meek and submissive like many believe that ideal students should be.


    Close to 500 of them, wearing symbolic white ribbons and mimicking the three-finger salute from the “The Hunger Games” movie, absented themselves from school and took to the streets on Aug. 2 and Sep. 5 to convey a message: “our first dictatorship is (in) school.”


    The phrase has since gone viral on social media and is now closely associated with them.


    For students, the white ribbon is usually a reminder of strict rules, because school girls with long hair are required to use it to tie their hair into a pony tail. But the Bad Students have inverted what the white ribbon means. For them, it now symbolizes freedom.


    In their rallies they have demanded that the education system be radically altered and have called for Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan to resign if their demands are not met.


    “Bad Students have three demands: stop harassing students, revoke outdated rules and reform the education system,” Benjamapon Niwas, a 10th grader from a Bangkok school, who considers herself a Bad Student, told BenarNews.


    The student group members said they support the pro-democracy protests, long to express themselves freely and without the fear of corporal punishment, would relish a curriculum that didn’t turn them into robots – and also want to be allowed to wear their hair long, without the public humiliation of having teachers forcibly hack off their hair.


    Because these youngsters belong to the social media generation, the Bad Students have highlighted their demands and grievances through catchy words and phrases that have captured the public’s imagination. Their hashtags, #stopharrassingstudents and #letitendinourgeneration, are wildly popular and have helped them broaden their support base.


    For Patpoom, a senior from Khon Kaen Wittayayon School in northeastern Khon Kaen province, being young doesn’t mean capitulating to teachers and school administrators and relinquishing basic rights.


    “Adults should know that youths like us can also ask for democracy. It’s not about age, it’s everyone's duty,” Khon told BenarNews.


    Demanding that the schooling system be changed for the better is a democratic right, the Bad Students say.


    Benjamapon, the Bangkok 10th grader, said the national curriculum was outdated and the mode of instruction didn’t encourage creativity, questions or independent thought. Instead, it has an assembly line-like quality, with a focus on hours spent slogging in school rather than the quality of that time.


    “Good education is when students don’t feel like quitting, aren’t bored and don’t want to go home. If students don’t feel that way, it means that the education is horrible,” Benjamapon said.


    “We have 10 classes a day and finish school at 5 or 6 p.m. It is taking up too much time in our lives. Our quality of life is poor. The problematic curriculum doesn’t account for students’ needs. In history, we learn the same things every year. We are mainly taught to memorize, not to utilize.”

    ‘Road of Pain’


    On Sept. 5, Bad Students gathered for a debate between its representative and Education Minister Nataphol, who promised to implement some of the changes they demanded.


    “I’m listening to everyone who wants to improve the education system. It is my duty,” Nataphol said on stage during the debate.


    “There are a few things which I think are reasonable and I will implement. We are trying to fix the problems, however some regulations and laws are obstructing it. On the day I cannot be of use to the country or education system, I will resign.”


    However, a little under a month later, the students were still waiting for a formal response to their demands from the education ministry.


    Therefore, on Oct. 2, around 30 representatives of the Bad Students took their campaign to five well-known high schools in Bangkok and ended the rally with a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Education.


    They dubbed that rally “the road of pain” because their efforts hadn’t borne fruit.


    The participation of students in these rallies has not been without ramifications for some of them.


    According to Khon Kaen senior Patpoom, at least two students from his school and their families had received threatening phone calls after the students expressed support for the August protest. Some teachers, too, targeted them, he told BenarNews.


    ‘Government needs to listen’


    Academics and a school teacher who BenarNews spoke to said that the Bad Students were raising valid concerns.


    What the Bad Students want is for authorities involved in education to listen, and they should, said Dr. Omsin Jatupon, a professor on the Faculty of Education at Chiang Mai University.


    “They could follow the first demand immediately which is to stop harassment of students,” Omsin said.


    “This should be common sense among teachers because students’ rights are obviously protected in the constitution and under the Children and Young Persons Act.”


    Meanwhile, reforms to the curriculum as demanded by the students are also long overdue, Dr. Yupatep Boonyaritraksa, director of the Manee Anusorn School in Khon Kaen told BenarNews.


    “Schools and the ministry should reflect on students’ demands and respond to their needs. Every school tries to produce children like canned fish, making them the same. The curriculum should have been adjusted a long time ago,” Yupatep said.


    Dr. Wirathep Pathumcharoenwattana, associate professor at the Research Center for Children and Youth Development, agreed that Thailand’s education system was outdated.


    “The education system does not reflect the needs of new generations. Diversity in education should be stressed,” Wirathep told BenarNews.

    Thailand’s ‘Bad Students’ Rise Up to Demand Democracy, Education Reform

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    Then when they've sorted the wai they can work on honorifics, then...
    Small steps is the way forward. Whether their parents would agree is debatable.

    Quote Originally Posted by aging one View Post
    Critical thinking has come to Thailand.
    An attempt at regime change funded by foreign regimes is more likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    BenarNews spoke
    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Because these youngsters belong to the social media generation
    A prime example of foreign regime funded mouthpiece.

  10. #10
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    ^^Good for the students! I think it is about time the students stood up for their rights. There should be more doing it imo. I don't see things changing, but they eventually could bring on small changes to the system. Updating the curriculum could be start. I was friends with a few teachers who worked in the government schools and they told me that often there were mistakes in the written curriculum. They tried to make the dry curriculum more student centered, but it was hard with large class sizes and also with the ingrained learning of regurgitation they grew up with.

    The song, "Another Brick In The Wall" comes to mind.


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