Thai classes to resume July 1, ready or not

Government television broadcast the Wang Klai Kang Won school’s English class for sixth graders nationwide to learn from at home yesterday, to much ridicule. Image: DLTV
Government television broadcast the Wang Klai Kang Won school’s English class for sixth graders nationwide to learn from at home yesterday, to much ridicule. Image: DLTV

The top education official announced last night that students would return to school on July 1, with distance learning only reserved as options in areas still grappling with the coronavirus outbreak.

After the outbreak forced all schools to close mid-March, the Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan cited concerns that remote learning is insufficient at a Monday news conference where he insisted classes resume in just over a month – with some restrictions in place.

“Schools nationwide must start teaching on July 1 whether at school or from home,” he said. “Online teaching can be used as a supplement for high schoolers, depending on a context. I insist that schools shouldn’t invest in providing devices.”

He said students would be limited to 20 per class, and more teacher assistants would be hired to reduce contact between students and teachers.

Nataphol underscored his ministry’s confidence by stating that if classrooms were to open today, only Bangkok, Phuket and five southern border provinces would have to teach remotely.

As for access issues in those places, he said that a survey found only 10% of high school students lacked electronic devices for online learning; therefore, he would leave it to the schools to decide how to address those students’ needs.

With 43 days between now and July, he said the ministry would survey schools in order to devise a plan.

Moving classes online has produced at least one embarrassing moment.

On Monday, an instructor teaching English to sixth graders via the state’s distance-learning television, or DLTV, was widely criticized for her less than stellar grammar and mispronunciation. The teacher’s been mocked online for gems including, “Have you bek-faad?” “Englick,” and “wamry welcome.”

 

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