Educational Challenges in Qatar

Written By Anna Moneta

Qatar’s history

Qatar, once a modest Gulf state, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a global economic powerhouse, largely attributed to the discovery and exploitation of oil reserves in the mid-20th century. The revelation of oil beneath Qatar’s arid desert sands in the early 1940s marked a pivotal moment, catapulting the nation into a dominant position in the global oil and natural gas markets. This economic ascent is intricately linked to Qatar’s historical ties as a British protectorate, formally established in 1868 with interactions dating back even earlier. [1]

The British, leveraging their extensive experience in oil resource management in the Gulf, played a crucial role by providing technical expertise and guidance for oil drilling and export infrastructure. This collaborative effort laid the foundation for Qatar’s thriving oil industry, enabling the nation to capitalize on its newfound resource wealth. However, the influence of British colonialism extended beyond economic realms, permeating into Qatar’s educational system. The British presence, which included military corps and colonial workers engaged in the oil industry, prompted the emergence of an educational system designed to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This collaborative initiative led to the establishment of the Ministry of Education in 1956, shaping the trajectory of Qatar’s educational landscape. [1]

Today, Qatar stands among the world’s wealthiest nations, largely driven by its revenue from oil and natural gas. Nevertheless, the legacy of colonization raises pertinent questions about the enduring impact on the country’s educational framework. As we explore Qatar’s historical evolution and the complexities of its educational system, it is crucial to address contemporary concerns. The World Bank, in particular, underscores issues in early childhood development (ECD) outcomes in Qatar, shedding light on deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. [2] These concerns, despite economic progress, pose potential long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development, adding a new layer of complexity to the narrative of Qatar’s historical and educational journey.

Qatar’s school system

Qatar’s educational landscape is characterized by a diverse system that includes both public, government-operated schools and privately-run institutions, each offering distinct curricula and languages of instruction. The prevalence of international curricula in many private schools has sparked discussions about the enduring influence of British colonialism on the nation’s education.

Government schools in Qatar are structured into three levels: primary school, serving students between the ages of 6 and 12; preparatory school, accommodating those aged 13 to 15; and secondary school, catering to students between the ages of 16 and 18. Additionally, for younger children, there is a range of options including nurseries for those aged 0 to 3, and kindergarten or preschool for children aged 3 to 5, providing flexibility based on individual needs. It is important to note that associated costs can vary significantly, typically ranging from QAR 15,000 to QAR 40,000.

In higher education, institutions in Qatar are classified as private, national, or branch campuses. The University of Qatar, established in 1973, stands as the oldest higher education institution in the country. Offering a diverse array of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the university encompasses faculties of engineering, social sciences, education, Islamic studies, humanities, and sciences. The presence of these higher education institutions further enriches Qatar’s educational landscape, contributing to the nation’s academic and intellectual growth.

Issues arising from Qatar’s colonial history.

Postcolonial theorists, exemplified by scholars like Hickling-Hudson (2006), provide a critical lens through which to examine the lasting impact of colonialism on education systems in former colonies. One of their central arguments revolves around the deliberate under-resourcing of education by colonial powers as a means of perpetuating control and exploitation of local populations.

The British presence in Qatar necessitated the establishment of an educational system to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This early system laid the groundwork for Qatar’s educational landscape. Thus, when the nation embarked on its journey of economic transformation fuelled by oil wealth, its educational foundations were influenced by its colonial past. [3]

The postcolonial argument put forth posits that colonial powers intentionally kept education under-resourced in their colonies. This tactic was not merely neglect rather; it was a calculated strategy to exploit local populations. In fact, by depriving colonized peoples of adequate education, colonial powers could maintain control and perpetuate socio-economic inequalities. [3] The 2015 OECD study, which ranked Qatar in the bottom 10 of its educational index, hints at the implications of such deliberate underinvestment.

The correlation between Qatar’s colonial history and its educational challenges becomes apparent when considering the consequences of insufficient educational resources. While Qatar has made remarkable advances in various sectors, including infrastructure and healthcare, its education system has faced persistent disparities in terms of quality and access. These disparities are a reflection of the historical under-resourcing of education, an issue that postcolonial theorists emphasize.

Educational Challenges

The 2015 OECD ranking serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of this historical underinvestment. Qatar’s educational system, despite the nation’s substantial wealth, lagged in international assessments.

A significant development in Qatar’s education landscape has been the proliferation of private international schools, particularly in the last three decades. These schools cater primarily to Western expatriates and offer curricula in languages such as English, French, and German. While these institutions have contributed to Qatar’s educational diversity, they have also exacerbated disparities. Students attending private international schools often receive what is perceived as a higher quality education, leading to unequal opportunities in terms of academic performance and prospects. This educational divide raises questions about equity and access within the Qatari education system.

One further challenge facing Qatar’s education system is the need to strike a balance between the Arabic and English languages. Arabization and hybrid approaches have emerged as potential solutions to this linguistic dilemma. Arabization advocates argue that a strong emphasis on Arabic is crucial to preserving cultural and linguistic heritage. Conversely, advocates of the hybrid approach argue that a bilingual model, combining English and Arabic, is essential for equipping students with the skills needed for the globalized world while preserving traditional cultural values. This linguistic draw reflects the complexities of navigating a postcolonial educational path. Although, concurrently, the Qatari government has been active in its efforts to build a cohesive national identity through its governmental curriculum. This curriculum not only imparts knowledge in core subjects like mathematics, science, and the arts but also emphasizes Islamic studies, history, and the Arabic language. While these efforts aim to instil a sense of pride and national identity in Qatari students, they encounter challenges when it comes to preparing students for higher education and the workforce. The need for a curriculum that can adapt to the evolving global landscape while preserving cultural values is a complex task.

The World Bank’s Concerns

The World Bank has raised concerns regarding the state of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar, specifically highlighting deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. Despite the country’s economic progress, these developmental gaps pose long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development. The World Bank recognizes the potential transformative impact of enhanced ECD, not only in academic realms but also in promoting better health outcomes and fostering economic prosperity. [2]


The World Bank proposes a comprehensive three-fold strategy to enhance Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar. Firstly, it advocates for the establishment of a Qatar-based multisectoral body to coordinate and oversee the implementation of a holistic ECD strategy. This body would prioritize the formulation of robust child protection policies, creating a secure environment for young children, while also emphasizing the expansion of support for breastfeeding and parental leave. [2] Secondly, to ensure a more inclusive ECD approach, the World Bank recommends broadening the coverage of programs to encompass all children in Qatar. This expansion involves a significant increase in the scope of nutrition programs and the introduction of pre-primary education initiatives. The focus extends beyond the supply side to cultivating public demand for ECD programs and addressing existing inequalities across socioeconomic lines [2]. Lastly, the World Bank stresses the necessity of establishing a robust quality assurance system for Qatar’s ECD. This involves harmonizing standards for teachers and educational providers, ensuring a coherent curriculum spanning ages zero to six, and implementing monitoring mechanisms. A comprehensive set of key performance indicators, supported by a robust data system, is proposed to track child development outcomes and monitor progress effectively. [2]

Conclusion

In conclusion, Qatar’s educational journey reflects a profound transformation, evolving from an initially inadequate educational provision to a nuanced landscape deeply influenced by historical colonialism. Although commendable strides have been made in enhancing educational performance, the enduring legacy of colonization persists, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s educational framework. This narrative gains additional complexity with the World Bank’s highlighted concerns regarding early childhood development (ECD) outcomes, emphasizing the urgency of addressing contemporary challenges.

To effectively navigate the intricacies embedded in Qatar’s historical and educational context, a compelling solution emerges—the establishment of robust national educational institutions. These institutions should not only aspire to academic excellence but also actively integrate globally relevant subjects into the curriculum. A strategic imperative lies in prioritizing Qatar’s national educational system over international institutes, ensuring alignment with the nation’s distinctive history, cultural values, and contemporary requirements. Through this strategic emphasis, Qatar can pave the way for an education system that not only preserves its rich heritage but also equips its youth with the skills and knowledge essential for navigating the complexities of the modern globalized world. Embracing this transformative approach ensures that Qatar’s educational landscape becomes a beacon of cultural preservation and global readiness.

 


REFERENCES

[1] Zahlan, R. S. (2016). The creation of Qatar. Routledge.

[2] Nikaein Towfighian, S., & Adams, L. S. (2017). Early Childhood Development in Qatar. The World Bank.

[3] Hickling-Hudson, A. (2006). Cultural complexity, postcolonial perspectives, and educational change: Challenges for comparative educators. In J. Zajda, S. Majhanovich, & V. Rust (Eds.), Education and Social Justice (pp. 191-208). Springer Netherlands.

General Secretariat for Developing Planning. (2018). Qatar Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022. Retrieved from https://www.psa.gov.qa/en/knowledge/Documents/NDS2Final.pdf.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). PISA 2015 Results in Focus. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf.

 

Educational Challenges in Bhutan

Flag of Bhutan

Written by Shrila Kanth.

Bhutan is a small country that lies between India and China, nestling the Himalayas. Although the nation’s international presence was obscure for decades, ruled by the Wangchuck monarchy since 1907, the country has made several appearances at international forums 1970 onwards, and has always taken pride in maintaining their traditions and cultures. Bhutan was also introduced to modern and organised schooling relatively late between 1913 and 1914, and it was only in 2008 that the country established a two-party democracy after elections.

Currently, in the educational sector, Bhutan is struggling to provide students with refined infrastructure, human resources, and has failed to implement programs and standardisation, which affect the nation’s literacy rate and enlarges the socio-economic gaps between the diverse population. Prior to the introduction of formal education systems, Bhutan only had Monastic educations, where people would discuss religious themes and scriptures, and younger monks would learn from older monks and teachers. Organised Monastic education however, was introduced in 1622 by the formal monk body in Thimpu, where young monks focused on their spiritual growth. In 1913, on the basis of orders given out by Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, the first monarch of Bhutan, Gongzin Ugyen Dorji, established the first modern school in Haa. The goal of establishing formal schools in the country primarily focused on generating resources and aiding the country’s developing economy. It was after the inception of the first five-year plan in 1961, that the nation chose to place systematic education development as a priority. Bhutan has shown exponential educational growth over the course of decades, but the challenges of poor infrastructure, the lack of funds and finances, and the quality of education are still monumental.

Jakar tshechu, school children. Image by Arian Zwegers sourced from Flickr

Historical Context

In 1914, 46 Bhutanese boys travelled to Kalimpong, India to study at a mission school. Simultaneously, Dorji established the first modern school in Haa with teachers from the Church of Scotland Mission, and later another school was established in Bumthang for the Crown Prince and the children of the Royal court’s education. The curriculums were taught in Hindi and English.

Before the first five-year plan that focused on stabilising the educational sector of the nation, schools were classified as either ‘schools for Nepali Immigrants’ and ‘schools for Bhutanese.’ Most Nepali Immigrant schools consisted of one Indian teacher, a handful of students in one classroom in various districts across the country. The classes were conducted by the invited Indian teachers in Nepali, Hindi or English, and the schools were privately established in order to fulfil the demands of local residents. Furthermore, the ambiguity regarding the languages of instruction is in relation to the southern districts of the country where people were ethnically Nepali-Bhutanese. Nepalis had begun to immigrate to Bhutan in the late nineteenth century, when the British East India Company had just established tea plantations across the South-Asian subcontinent and sent workers from North-East India to Nepal. Some workers had escaped to Bhutan by crossing the ill-defined border at the time and settled down in the Southern districts of the small hill surrounded nation. These Nepali settlements in Bhutan were extremely self-sufficient, with mere interventions from the Bhutanese government. When they required a formal education, the residents of the  communities built schools for cheap, hired teachers from neighbouring nations, and conducted small classes.

Over the course of time, Bhutan saw the emergence of schools for the Bhutanese. They rapidly grew popular, with the number of students increasing, as well as the number of educators. The languages of instruction varied from Hindi, English, Nepali, Classic Tibetan and more. The first school opened in Haa welcomed the public and recognised the first batch of children who graduated from a mixed-sex primary school. Both types of schools had the support of local governments and public schools had a larger intake of up to 100 students. While for Nepali Immigrant schools the initiative was taken up from the local ground levels, for Bhutanese schools, the initiative was taken for the masses by governing bodies and officials in the nation.

Thinleygang Primary School, Bhutan 2005. Image by Andrew Adzic from Wikimedia

Educational Challenges

Since the implementation of the first five-year plan in 1961, Bhutan has witnessed rapid growth in the number of schools. From about 11 schools in 1961, the number of schools rose to over a thousand by 2019, including primary schooling, post-secondary schooling, vocational and technical training. The constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Article-9, Section-16 states, “the State shall endeavour to provide free basic education up to tenth standard to all school going age children,” (Kuenzang Gyeltshen, 2020), and the ministry makes sure there is no discrimination, gender based or socio-economic, in the enrollment process. The completion rate among female students stands at 102.3 percent, while for male students it stands at 84.8 percent. Schools for disabled students and students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) have also been established across the country.

Although in recent times Bhutan has made large investments in the education sector and funded infrastructural changes and established an institute to train educators, despite the rapid growth, the nation is still struggling to overcome certain challenges.

The lack of human resources and financial aid is posing to be the greatest threat to Bhutan’s education system. The country primarily funds its educational developments by loans from other nations at the moment, and does not have sufficient funding to provide new teachers or students with the prescribed training or in-class learning. Most incoming teachers are currently dependent on international scholarships and training programs.

Furthermore, the Royal Government of Bhutan still needs to overcome challenges presented by the disparity in economic statuses of families, socio-economic backgrounds, disabilities in students, as well as different terrains cutting off access to education. Students from certain hilly terrains of the country are cut off from quality education and well-established schools, leading to problems of overcrowding in classrooms, paving the way for ill-managed workload for the teachers. Moreover, students are unable to achieve the goals set for them. In the twenty-first century, education is not solely focused on academic grades, but is also focused on nurturing students with values and holistic learning. The TIMSS has proven that Bhutanese students are learning at a level lower than the international average (Kuenzang Gyeltshen, 2020). Students in Bhutan have demonstrated learning gaps in some of the core subjects, proving there is immense room for improvement in terms of the quality of education provided to them at the moment.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, there also exists a gap in the literacy rate of male students in comparison to female students. While male students have acquired a literacy rate 73.1 percent, females on the other hand stand at 63.9 percent. This is an equity based challenge Bhutan has to overcome which reflects gender based bias that still exists in the country (Kuenzang Gyeltshen, 2020). Bhutan does not have an education act or policy in execution at the moment. Their system efficiency needs to be improved in order to be more inclusive, and needs to provide the correct resources in order to develop and progress. A legislative education Act needs to be provided in order to witness tangible results and aid their educational sector, along with their globalisation goals. While Bhutan has proven to be a rapidly developing country and has taken the initial step towards achieving their goals, especially based on their first five-year plan, the nation still needs to come up with concrete plans to provide financial support to the educational sector.


References:

 BBC. (2023, March 21). Bhutan Country Profile. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12480707

Education system in Bhutan – GlobalReachBhutan. GlobalReachBhutan -. (2021, July 30). https://globalreach.bt/education-system-in-bhutan/ 

Part 1: Comparative education & history of education 67. (n.d.). https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED568679.pdf


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Educational Challenges faced in Bulgaria

Written by Dyuti Khulbe

Nestled amidst a variety of landscapes- from the mountain chains of Stara Planina, a natural dividing line running west to east, with over 40,000 cultural heritage sites, of which seven are listed under the UNESCO list, to the myriad of beaches along the coastline of Black Sea, Bulgaria is a perfect amalgamation of old cultures and modern townships. Founded in the seventh century, Bulgaria is the second oldest country, after San Marino, in the European continent.

Because of its rich historical background, Bulgaria also sees an intersection of Greek, Persian, Slavic, Roma and Ottoman cultures. This cultural intersection has also significantly impacted Bulgaria’s politics and society. Modern Bulgarian socio-political society has evolved due to interwoven inherited beliefs, values and practices combined with new influences. The impact of this ever-changing fusion can be seen in different aspects of Bulgarian society, particularly in education.

Sozopol, Bulgaria. Image via Unsplash by Neven Myst.

Before we look into the changing landscape of education in Bulgaria, let’s first understand where the country stands and how some of these factors affect its education infrastructure.

Background:

Bulgaria joined the European Union on 1st January 2007 after signing the 2005 Treaty of Accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU. Since then, there have been significant changes in its education sector, especially in terms of funding, investment in educational infrastructure and technology, advancement of its curriculum to meet EU standards and, most importantly, the introduction of a variety of widely spoken EU languages and mobility and exchange programmes.

Moreover, being an upper-middle income of the European Union, Bulgaria has implemented (especially after joining the EU) policies and introduced reforms in various sectors that also increase its proximity to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) standards and practices. It is on the pathway to becoming a member of the OECD. These reforms and policies have been encouraged and facilitated by a strong commitment to EU integration and have led the country to achieve macroeconomic stabilisation and higher living standards for the people in past decades.

However, although Bulgaria is striving towards progress, various hurdles need to be understood and worked upon.

Educational barriers:

Take education for instance. Bulgaria does believe that education is a vital tool to combat its current problems and will also aid in realising the country’s socio-economic potential. But it has not been so successful. The country has one of the lowest education outcomes in the EU. According to PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) data, 47% of 15-year-old students failed to achieve sufficient levels of reading proficiency in 2018, as compared to the Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional average of 42% and the OECD and EU average of 23%.

One of the underlying reasons for Bulgaria’s diminished educational progress is the low investment rate in the educational sector. According to the latest data of 2018, only 3.5% of the GDP is spent on education, which is lower than the EU average of 4.6%. It is one of the lowest in the EU.

Even though the world is moving towards digitalisation, Bulgarian classrooms could be more progressive. Most of the teachers find the integration of technology in the classrooms as an effective instrument however, they often complain about the lack of technical equipment and skills required to utilise the existing technology in classrooms. Fewer schools in Bulgaria are digitally equipped when compared to the EU. According to a 2019 report by the European Commission, only 32% of primary school children, 31% at the lower secondary level, and 37% at the upper secondary level have access to digitally equipped schools, as compared to the average 35%, 52% and 72% in the EU respectively. Only 57% of students in the age group 16-19 years possess basic digital skills as basic, which is much below the EU average of 82%.

The past few years have seen investments funded by the EU to enhance digital tools and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure; however, a Ministry of Education and Science study revealed that less than 40% of educational institutions had adequate equipment in their computer labs. Further, almost only half of the Bulgarian schools had pre-requisite conditions to enable modern ICT infrastructure and learning opportunities for teachers to enhance their ICT skills.

According to the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index, Bulgaria ranks at the bottom of the European rankings based on the digital skills of adults and young people. For the same reason, attempts are now being made to address this challenge. The SELFIE tool (a tool developed by the European Commission to help schools understand where they stand in digital education) is already used by 30% of the Bulgarian schools that evaluated how they use digital technologies in teaching and learning. The number of upper secondary classes specialising in ICT has been increased. Interestingly, coding is being offered as a subject starting from third grade, while four universities provide programmes in Artificial Intelligence. This is after the Council of the European Union called Bulgaria to ‘promote digital skills and equal access to education’ in its 2020 country specific recommendations. Bulgaria has also set out ‘Digital Bulgaria 2025’, a national programme for modernising and incorporating IT solutions in all economic and social welfare areas. One notable educational challenge confronting Bulgaria is the structural issues in teaching policies. Most teachers in primary to upper secondary schools are ageing rapidly, as most are older than 50. According to a report by World Bank 2019, around 11% are found to be already 60 years old. Despite raising the teachers’ salaries to make it more attractive, only some were found to opt for the teaching profession. The teacher training is considered more theoretical than practical, and there is no clear policy to measure if the teachers’ skills meet students’ needs nor any system to track the teaching and learning experience of the classrooms.

Bulgarian and EU flag against a blue sky. Image via Unsplash by Neven Myst.

Discrimination against Roma children in schools

Although providing equal and unbiased education is a fundamental human right for all citizens of the EU countries, the non-inclusive nature of public education consistently denies Roma children from enjoying this right. There are huge gaps in access, quality and treatment of Roma children. One of the primary concerns is school segregation.

Even though school segregation has never been officially introduced or sanctioned by the Eastern and Central European countries, unfortunately, it has always been present. The system of ‘Gypsy schools’ predominantly existed in Bulgaria, where the children enrolled belonged exclusively to the Roma community as they were not allowed to enrol in mainstream Bulgarian schools.

Over the years, especially in the late 90s and 2000s, the policies of the Bulgarian government supported the downsizing of the Gypsy schools. The organised grassroots effort for school desegregation in Bulgaria began in 2000, with several hundred Romani children enrolling from a gypsy school in Vidin into the town’s mainstream schools. This initiative aligns with the historical development of Romani communities in Bulgaria, where, having lived on Bulgarian lands for centuries, Roma has long aspired to integrate into the broader societal institutions, including the educational system. The desire to achieve this goal has existed for a long time and is not limited to the present. Even in past decades, Romani parents with the necessary knowledge and resources made efforts to enrol their children in mainstream schools.

However, this process has remained ever slow in doing so. Many Roma children either remain unenrolled in schools, often drop out or do not receive quality inclusive education. The 2018 UNICEF Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Bulgaria identifies factors such as poverty, limited proficiency in the official language (Bulgarian), prejudice, and discrimination as the primary contributors to this issue.

In the 2018 PISA test, students from more advantaged backgrounds significantly outperformed their less advantaged counterparts, with a substantial gap of 106 points in reading, equivalent to over two and a half years of schooling. While this gap has decreased since 2009 (when it stood at 130 points), this reduction primarily stems from lower scores among the advantaged students rather than an improvement in the performance of disadvantaged students. To summarise, 70% of students facing socio-economic disadvantages encountered difficulties in reading, in contrast to just 25% among their more socio-economically advantaged peers. This gap of 45 percentage points is the widest in the EU. Consequently, the transmission of educational qualification and poverty between generations is a crucial factor influencing overall educational opportunities, early school dropout rates, and subsequent success in the labour market. This concludes that the benefits from schooling are higher for students whose mother tongue is Bulgarian than others.

Students’ socio-economic status strongly influences their aspirations regarding attaining a university degree. In Bulgaria, 64.3% of teenagers generally aim to achieve higher education, slightly surpassing the EU average of 62.4%. Nevertheless, when examining the least privileged students, only 42.8% realise this aspiration, in contrast to the significantly higher rate of 83.3% among their more affluent counterparts.

Moreover, the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states its concern over Bulgaria’s National Roma Integration Strategy (2012-2020) as it remains constrained. The Committee observes hindrances preventing Roma individuals from thoroughly enjoying their economic, social, and cultural rights. Specifically, there are ongoing concerns about discrimination against Roma in areas such as employment, housing, healthcare, and education, which are further exacerbated by increased anti-Roma sentiment. It is particularly concerned about reports that Roma children increasingly attended de facto segregated schools.

It has been over 20 years since the Bulgarian government initiated its desegregation policy. However, most reports, as we saw, suggest that the progress is slow. The desegregation is a long-term process that requires continuous efforts and, most importantly, an understanding of a multi-layered phenomenon. To ultimately achieve integration, the government must work alongside the communities- both the majority and minority, civil society and international organisations to ensure equitable education for all.


References:

OECD Education and Skills Today https://doi.org/10.1787/57f2fb43-en 

European Commission Education and Training Monitor 2020 https://op.europa.eu/webpub/eac/education-and-training-monitor-2020/countries/bulgaria.html

OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Bulgaria https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/57f2fb43-en.pdf?expires=1693415611&id=id&accname=ocid54016941&checksum=77270BEF14631DA8FF9DD3CC0D360C16

Toward an Equal Start: Closing the Early Learning Gap for Roma Children in Eastern Europe: Evidence from a Randomised Evaluation in Bulgaria https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/sief-trust-fund/brief/closing-the-early-learning-gap-for-roma-children-in-eastern-europe

Discrimination against Roma in Croatia and Bulgaria: A comparative report https://minorityrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/MRG_ERELA_Rep_EN_E.pdf

Country Assessment and the Roma Education Fund’s Strategic Directions https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/bulgaria_report.pdf

Bulgarian Political Culture and Civic Participation; Antony Todorov https://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/sofia/08095.pdf

Europe’s Forgotten Children https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-forgotten-children-roma-community-bulgaria-school/

Taking School Desegregation To Scale – The Way Ahead; Rumyan Russinov https://www.rcc.int/romaintegration2020/romadecadefold//documents/2.%20isc%20meetings/12%2012th%20Meeting%20of%20the%20ISC_February%202008%20(Hungary)/Presentations/Taking%20School%20Desegregation%20To%20Scale%20%E2%80%93%20The%20Way%20Ahead.pdf

UNHRC Universal Human Rights Index Document E/C.12/BGR/CO/6 BULGARIA: CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS View Document E/C.12/BGR/CO/6 BULGARIA: CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS (ohchr.org)


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Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of September, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the twelfth edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between 1st and 15th of September, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team. You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition. To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between 1st and 15th of September, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

Educational Challenges in Puerto Rico

Written By Samantha Orozco and John Whitlock

Historic background

Puerto Rico is located northeast of the Caribbean Sea and is considered one of the Greater Antilles. Its location boasts beautiful beaches and landscapes but is also prone to hurricanes and other natural hazards that have severely affected its residents. Puerto Rico’s official language is Spanish and it is home to a diverse and multicultural population, with most of its inhabitants of Puerto Rican descent and a significant community of African, European, and Latin American ancestry.

After the Spanish-American War, the United States (US) officially annexed the then Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in December 1898, initially subjecting Puerto Rico to rule by the US military and a governor appointed by the President. In 1917, the US Congress voted to grant Puerto Ricans official citizenship status, while still denying them the representative rights that usually accompany full citizenship. The island’s inhabitants could not elect their own governor until 1947.

To this day, Puerto Ricans are not able to participate in US elections, have no voting representation within the US Congress, and do not hold the right to “equal treatment” in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The island is now an “unincorporated territory” with “quasi-colonial” status, according to former Puerto Rican high school teacher and US Secretary of Education John King.  This causes serious consequences in the education system due to limited support from the US federal government and the unfortunate impact of natural hazards, the negative and systematic effects of which have not been adequately addressed.

Education System Overview

The Puerto Rican education system is roughly based on the American model. School attendance is mandatory from ages 6 to 18, and divided into six years of elementary education, three years of junior high school, and three years of high school. Academic calendars and grading scales are very similar to their US equivalents. After numerous failed attempts by the US to convert the Puerto Rican education system to English, Spanish has remained the language in which public schools operate. The high school diploma is known as the “Diploma de Escuela Superior” a literal translation from its mainland English counterpart. 

A key difference between challenges to the Puerto Rican school system and the mainland US system is the percentage of children experiencing poverty. According to the Census, 44% of Puerto Ricans live in poverty. Whereas 17% of children live below the poverty line in the US, this percentage is at 55% in Puerto Rico and even higher in rural areas. In 2017, a quarter of Puerto Rican children did not have access to the internet and half did not have access to a home computer.

Today, those who do have a home computer may have unreliable power due to damages to the electrical grid caused by disasters and mismanagement. High school drop-out rates are much higher on the island, especially from households with lower incomes: according to the U.S. Department of Education, the dropout rate among high school students is one-third, which is more than twice the current percentage in mainland US. In 2015, the secondary education net enrollment rate was 66.6% as opposed to 80.5% in mainland US.

This data was published in 2009-2010, which is the most recent information available due to the limited production of up-to-date statistics by the local government. Moreover, federal counts frequently omit Puerto Rico from their calculations. It is likely that the dropout rate in Puerto Rico has likely increased even further since, as hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the situation. For those students who graduate high school, outcomes are not equal to those on the mainland US.

According to the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico, 51% of high school graduates pursue university education, whereas 67% of suburban Americans and 63% of rural and urban Americans attend college. Many Puerto Rican graduates who are able to attend college come from privileged backgrounds which enable them to attend private schools and hire college application consultants.

This is in line with the islands’ rank as the third-highest income-unequal in the world, following South Africa and Zambia. Additionally, it is particularly difficult for Puerto Rican students to pursue a college education in the mainland US. As US and Puerto Rican high school graduation tests are not harmonized, Puerto Rican high school students are required to take a Spanish language test that nearly no US mainland universities consider valid. Initially aimed to create a standardized college admissions test for the Spanish-speaking world and implemented for a trial run in Puerto Rico, this test was never expanded beyond.  Because of this, and underfunding, most public high school guidance counselors in Puerto Rico do not have knowledge of mainland admission requirements and cannot help students in that way.  

In the last year of reported data, “only 694 high school graduates from all of Puerto Rico went to college on the mainland or abroad in 2016. That’s about 2 percent. The island’s population is 3.2 million, according to the Census Bureau.” 

A positive aspect of the Puerto Rican education system is that the University of Puerto Rico is more accessible and affordable than comparable universities in the mainland US where the average tuition at a public institution is $25,707 per year (for students with family residence in the state) or $44,014 per year (for students without family residence in the state). In comparison, students at the University of Puerto Rico pay $4,366 in tuition in-state, and $8,712 out-of-state. However, according to advocacy group Excelencia in Education, less than half of students who enroll in Puerto Rican universities earn degrees after six years, compared to the US mainland where 58 percent of college students graduate. 

Natural hazards in Puerto Rico

Natural hazards have wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico for many years. Despite being aware of this situation, efforts to mitigate the damage have not been effectively implemented and disaster has been the result. Most of the resources allocated for education are used for repairing school infrastructure, but they remain insufficient.

A clear example of this is the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which struck in 2017 and six years later still affects the territory. Maria severely impacted access to education in Puerto Rico and exposed deficiencies in both the state and institutional aspects of the system. There was an inability to respond to emergencies and a lack of efficiency in seeking solutions that would allow the population to continue their education.

At the time, according to a report made by Kavitha Cardoza (2023), the damage caused by Maria led to the closure of many schools due to infrastructure problems, leaving thousands of students with no opportunity to continue their studies and resulting in a high dropout rate. This created a vicious cycle, as student attrition reduced enrollment, which in turn led to the closure of schools that did not have enough students to operate.

In addition to hurricanes and floods, Puerto Rico has also experienced earthquakes. In 2020, a series of earthquakes contributed to the destruction of the already precarious school infrastructure. Just as the system was trying to recover from the ravages of Maria, it had to face the closure of schools for three months while engineers verified the safety of those still in operation. The most recent natural catastrophe in Puerto Rico was recorded in September 2022 when Hurricane Fiona struck the island, causing damage to infrastructure and the temporary closure of the few schools that were still functioning.

An aerial view of the damage left behind after Hurricane Maria is seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Black Hawk helicopter as AMO agents respond to the humanitarian needs of the people of Puerto Rico October 2, 2017. Photo by Mani Albrecht via Flickr

Bureaucracy and abandonment

Despite its status as an incorporated territory in the United States, discussions about Puerto Rico’s true status and the ongoing debate about its future, whether to be considered a state or attain independence, have not ceased. The only certainty thus far is that Puerto Rican residents are not considered equal to citizens of the U.S. mainland.

The Puerto Rican educational system faces challenges ranging from insufficient investment to talent migration and disparities in educational opportunities. In theory, Puerto Rico has autonomy in managing its resources. However, for many important decisions, authorities find themselves dependent on aid from the federal government.  Due to the implementation of PROMESA, an act passed by the Obama administration in 2016, an unelected Financial Management and Oversight Board makes all decisions about how funding is used in Puerto Rico.  “The FMOB has proposed an array of measures to “shock the system” into growth”.

These measures include but are not limited: to wage controls, reduction in government services, closing public schools, cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, over 100 percent increases in university tuition and other fees, laying off thousands of public employees, furloughing public employees of two days per month, and cuts of 10 percent from pensions of retired workers. Puerto Rico heavily relies on federal funds to maintain and improve the quality of education, and this insufficient investment has led to a lack of resources and deteriorated infrastructure in many schools. For the start of the 2023-2024 school year, it is estimated that 588 out of the 856 functioning schools opened with infrastructure damage, meaning that 69% of schools are still not in optimal conditions to receive students.

The migration of students and educational professionals to the U.S. mainland has been an additional challenge. The pursuit of better economic opportunities on the mainland has resulted in a decrease in school enrollment in Puerto Rico and a loss of talent in the classrooms. This trend negatively impacts schools and, ultimately, the quality of education provided on the island. This is compounded by poor working conditions for educational staff as well as a lack of investment in the professionalization and training of teachers.

The lack of equal educational opportunities is another critical issue. The fact that Puerto Ricans do not have access to the same resources and educational programs as other United States citizens has led to significant disparities in access to quality education, perpetuating inequality. This is evident in the exclusion of standardized test results in Puerto Rico from national compilation. The implementation of federally imposed educational standards and standardized assessments does not always consider the peculiarities of Puerto Rico’s educational system. This can lead to unfair assessments and the imposition of inappropriate measures that do not adapt to the island’s reality. Special education and support for students with disabilities have also faced challenges, such as the lack of resources and trained personnel to provide the necessary support.

Reparation of a fence at the Escuela República del Perú in Puerto Rico, on November 8, 2018. Photo by Ruben Diaz Jr. Via Flickr

The efforts to restore the Education System

The uncertainty surrounding the political status of Puerto Rico has influenced the stability and educational policies and created additional challenges in long-term planning and decision-making. However, in May of this year, the federal administration initiated a program to decentralize the Puerto Rican educational system, which should be viewed as the beginning of sustainable efforts to ensure a dignified education in Puerto Rico. This is in response to the imminent educational crisis affecting Puerto Rico, which must be addressed regardless of the territory’s political future.

The Biden-Harris Administration has played a significant role in supporting Puerto Rico’s education, providing substantial funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and other programs. As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, public school teachers received a 30% salary increase, school repairs were expedited, and technical assistance was provided to improve the management of federal programs and funds. This move towards decentralization is seen as a historic commitment by the government of Puerto Rico to create a 21st-century educational system that better prepares students for the future. So far, $4.9 billion has been allocated to Puerto Rico since taking office. This includes $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act and $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act -CRRSA- 2021.

The Future

As challenges in infrastructure, inequality, and quality persist, the future of this education system and its ability to create better opportunities and outcomes for its students is largely dependent on the future stance of the US towards Puerto Rico. The Biden administration has made promises of a better, more equitable relationship between Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S., but it remains to be seen whether those are implemented in practice. According to Chris de Soto, a Senior Advisor of the Office of the US Secretary of Education,

“Following two natural disasters and a global pandemic, it is critical that trust is rebuilt with students and families across the island. The public should be aware of how federal funds are contributing to the educational recovery of their schools and actually see the benefits in classrooms across the island.  While progress has been made, we know there is more work to do.” 

In recent years, US funding to the Puerto Rican education system has increased. In 2022, Puerto Rico’s education system received federal aid funds amounting to $2.62 billion which is five times higher than education funding allocated to Utah, a state with a similar population size, highlighting the US government’s understanding that the Puerto Rican education system is in a more dire situation than the mainland U.S. The key focus remains the prioritization of educational investment in mitigation and contingency plans to strengthen the resilience of the population against the imminent risk of being struck again by natural disasters. Indeed, Puerto Rico’s education system has endured challenges, the reason why the commitment of authorities to a brighter future for the next generations has to remain unwavering.


References

Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 16th and 31st of August, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the eleventh edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 16th and 31st of August, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 16th and 31st of August, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

Education at a Crossroads: Navigating Thailand’s Educational Challenges

Written by Niyang Bai

Image Source: free stock photos from https://unsplash.com/ by Robert Collins.

Introduction

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand is a land of rich history and boundless potential. Its picturesque surface hides the challenges facing its education system, a cornerstone of its development.

Education is the key to progress, dreams, and prosperity in Thailand. However, this journey is riddled with obstacles, from insufficient funding to educational inequality, casting shadows on a brighter future. These challenges aren’t abstract; they affect students, parents, and policymakers daily. We will explore Thai schools, educators, and students, highlighting their resilience and determination.

Thailand is at a crossroads in its education system, with choices that will impact future generations. We delve into Thailand’s education system’s complexities, hopes, and aspirations, recognizing that in adversity, a nation’s greatest asset is its pursuit of knowledge.

Insufficient Funding

In Thailand, where the promise of education should be a beacon for the future, insufficient funding looms as a dark cloud over the nation’s schools. A simple search through recent articles reveals a complex web of challenges from this issue.

According to a report by the World Bank, the education system in Thailand is beset by poor management, inequality, and high teacher shortages[1]. The World Bank has stated that investments in key financial, human, and digital learning resources were especially low in disadvantaged schools (ranked at the bottom 25 percent of the PISA Economic, Social, and Cultural Status (ESCS) Index), private schools that receive more than half of their funding from government, and rural schools[2].

World Bank highlights the small school challenge in Thailand and options for quality education. It reveals that compared to international peers, Thai secondary schools are severely hindered by inadequate learning materials and physical infrastructure, which limits their capacity to provide quality instruction. More importantly, the Thai secondary school system is dramatically lacking in qualified teachers: secondary schools in rural areas are much more understaffed and under-resourced than their urban counterparts[3].

A more in-depth report by the National Education Commission for the fiscal year 2022-2023 reveals the extent of the problem. It states that Thailand’s education budget falls significantly short of international standards. Thailand allocates only 15% of its annual budget to education, while UNESCO recommends a minimum of 20%[4]. This shortfall in funding directly affects the quality of education and students’ overall well-being.

To gain a deeper insight into the challenges of rural education in Thailand, the story of Ms. Nongnuch, a passionate teacher in a bamboo school in Buriram province. Like many others, her school strives to provide quality education despite limited resources.

Ms. Nongnuch explained that the bamboo school has an innovative learning method focusing on sustainability and environmental conservation. The students do not have to pay tuition but must plant 800 trees and participate in 800 hours of community service per year. They also learn leadership, empathy and compassion through hands-on activities.

She also highlighted the need for more support from the government and society. “Our school is more than just a school that we all used to know. A school is a lifelong learning centre and a hub for social and economic advancement in the communities,” Ms. Nongnuch quoted the school founder, Mechai Viravaidya[5]. However, she said the school still faces difficulties securing funds, materials and facilities.

Moreover, the lack of recognition and appreciation is a constant struggle. “Others often look down upon our students because they come from poor families or remote areas,” Ms. Nongnuch revealed. This stigma not only affects their self-esteem but also their motivation to pursue higher education.

Perhaps most inspiring is the impact on students’ aspirations. Ms. Nongnuch shared stories of talented students who had overcome their hardships and achieved their goals with the help of the bamboo school. “It fills me with joy to see potential realized,” she said. “We are nurturing future leaders who will make a difference in their communities and beyond.”

As Ms. Nongnuch eloquently put it, insufficient funding is “a barrier that blocks the opportunities for our children.”  It becomes increasingly clear that supporting rural schools like hers is not just a matter of charity; it’s about empowering the untapped potential of a nation’s youth.

Quality of Education

According to a report by the Asian Development Bank, Thailand’s basic education system faces several challenges, including the need to expand the supply of human capital to avoid the middle-income trap and the ageing society. The report highlights that despite the significant amount of resources spent on education, students’ learning outcomes are low and have not improved significantly in either national or international assessments. The performance of junior secondary school students in national examinations has declined, especially in mathematics and science. While the performance of senior secondary school students has improved slightly over the same period, the mean results for core subjects (mathematics, science, and English) were less than 50. This worrying figure is worsened by inequality in education quality across regions since the performance of secondary school students is lower in poorer, remote regions. The report argues that such poor learning outcomes are presumably due to two main reasons: the role of small schools and inefficient resource allocation for education in public spending[6].

As per the World Bank, various factors are influencing the quality of education in Thailand[7]. The report highlights the following key findings:

  • A lack of teacher training and professional development opportunities directly impacts the quality of instruction in classrooms.
  • Disparities in educational quality persist between urban and rural areas, where students in rural regions face limited access to qualified teachers and educational resources.
  • The curriculum was found to be outdated, with a need for reforms that align with 21st-century skills.
  • Student engagement and critical thinking skills remain underdeveloped due to traditional teaching methods.

The report recommends comprehensive teacher training programs, curriculum updates, and implementing student-centred teaching strategies to address these challenges.

The following views expressed by both a student and a parent tell us more about the quality of education in Thailand.

Nicha, a 16-year-old high school student, expressed dissatisfaction with the rigid curriculum. “I feel like I’m just following instructions from teachers,” she said. “I want to explore, not just obey.” Nicha also mentioned that the lack of creative learning opportunities made studying less interesting.

On the other hand, Mr. Somchai, a parent, shared his worries about the quality of education. “I wonder if my child is getting the skills they need for the future,” he said. “The education system seems old-fashioned, and it doesn’t prepare them for the changes of today’s society.”[8]

These voices resonate with a growing sentiment in Thailand: a need for a shift in the education paradigm. The emphasis on holistic development, critical thinking, and practical skills has become increasingly urgent. Thailand’s educational landscape stands at a crossroads, with the quality of education being a critical factor in determining the nation’s success in the global arena.

Image Source: Free stock photos from https://unsplash.com/t/3d-renders by Mario Heller

Educational Inequality

Educational inequality in Thailand is a pressing issue highlighted in recent news articles. According to a report by the World Bank, disparities in allocation and inefficiencies of investments across schools in Thailand have led to a decline in student performance in reading and a stagnation of scores in math and science[9]. The report further finds that investments in key financial, human, and digital learning resources were especially low in disadvantaged schools, private schools that receive more than half of their funding from the government, and rural schools.

Inequality between urban and rural areas is also a significant concern. Rural areas often lack basic infrastructure, qualified teachers, and educational resources, creating a significant gap in educational quality[10]. Ethnic minority communities face additional challenges, such as language barriers, discrimination, and limited access to quality education[11].

The Thai government must address these issues and create inclusive learning environments in schools to help improve Thailand’s education performance. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that assesses Thailand’s education system and skills imbalances[12]. The report highlights several issues that contribute to educational inequality in Thailand:

  • Education quality, not quantity, is the main contributing factor to long-term economic growth.
  • Disadvantaged schools have low investments in key financial, human, and digital learning resources.
  • There is a skills mismatch between the demand in the Thai labour market and the supply of skilled workers.
  • There are disparities in resources allocated for teachers and other educational resources between schools with higher and lower socioeconomic status students.

The report recommends several policy interventions to address these issues, including improving teacher quality, increasing investment in disadvantaged schools, and enhancing the relevance of education to labour market needs. The report also emphasizes the importance of developing relevant skills from pre-primary to higher education levels.

However, not all students have equal access to quality education and opportunities to develop their skills. Nong, a stateless student from a hill tribe in northern Thailand, shared her challenges and aspirations for education[13].

She explained that she had to overcome many obstacles, such as poverty, discrimination, and language barriers. “I had to work hard to support my family and pay school fees,” she said. “I also faced stigma and prejudice because of my ethnicity and status. I had to learn Thai as a second language, which was difficult.”

Nong also expressed her gratitude for the support she received from teachers and mentors. “They encouraged me to pursue my dreams and helped me with scholarships and citizenship applications,” she said. “They also taught me about my rights and responsibilities as a citizen.”

Regarding her future plans, Nong said she wanted to become a teacher and help other disadvantaged children. “I want to give back to my community and society,” she said. “I believe education is the key to empowerment and opportunity.”

Nong’s story illustrates the resilience and potential of many ethnic minority and stateless students in Thailand. While they face many hardships, they also have educational hopes and ambitions. There is a need for more inclusive and supportive policies and practices that enable them to access quality education and realize their full potential.

Teacher Shortage

Thailand is facing a serious challenge in providing quality education to its students, especially in rural areas lacking qualified teachers. A Thai PBS World report highlights the teacher shortage in Thailand, particularly in rural areas. The report states that the shortage is most severe in the northeastern region of Thailand, where schools struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers[14]. This has resulted in uneven access to quality education, with students in rural areas being disadvantaged.

In addition, a report from The Bangkok Post indicates a severe shortage of science and mathematics teachers nationwide. The report states that students in these subjects face a challenging situation due to the dearth of specialized educators[15].

According to a World Bank study, around 64% of Thai primary schools are critically short of teachers, defined as having less than one teacher per classroom on average. The study estimates that as many as 110,725 out of 353,198 classrooms in Thai primary and secondary schools are critically short of teachers[16]. The study also reveals that eliminating teacher shortages in terms of quality and quantity would significantly improve student learning, and the impact would be most significant for lower-performing schools. Therefore, improving the quality of teachers and addressing the severe teacher shortages – especially for the vast number of small rural schools – should be at the centre of Thailand’s reform initiatives if the country is serious about tackling the widespread low education quality and high disparity in educational performance between socioeconomic groups.

To gain insight into the challenges of teaching in under-resourced schools, the case of Chaisit Chaiboonsomjit, a learner at Xavier Learning Community (XLC) in Chiang Rai, who served as a volunteer teacher at Zi Brae School in Chiang Mai[17]. His experience was eye-opening.

Chaisit shared his enthusiasm for teaching but also revealed the harsh conditions he faced. “The school is located on top of a mountain, and it takes eight hours to get there by car or motorcycle,” he said. “When it rains, the roads become impossible to pass, and teachers are often stranded.”

He explained how the lack of teachers affects students. “Most of our students are from the Karen hill tribe and study seven subjects provided by the Thai Education Ministry. But we only have 15 teachers for more than 200 students. They need more guidance and support to learn effectively.”

Chaisit also expressed frustration about teacher retention. “Many teachers leave after a short time because they can’t cope with the isolation and hardship,” he said. “This creates instability and inconsistency in the school system.”

In his heartfelt appeal, Chaisit emphasized the value of equal opportunity for education. “Every child, no matter where they are born, deserves a good teacher and a chance to pursue their dreams. We need more incentives to attract teachers to rural areas and more resources for teacher training.”

Chaisit’s story is a powerful illustration of the real-world impact of the teacher shortage crisis. It’s a challenge that affects educators and limits the educational potential of countless Thai students, especially those in remote areas.

Conclusion

Thailand’s education system, often celebrated for its potential, is ensnared in a web of challenges that demand urgent attention. This report has delved into five critical issues that cast shadows over the nation’s educational landscape:

  1. Insufficient Funding: A chronic shortage of financial resources hampers the quality of education, hindering the nurturing of young minds.
  2. Quality of Education: Rote memorization and standardized testing take precedence over critical thinking and creativity, leaving students ill-prepared for the complexities of the modern world.
  3. Educational Inequality: Disparities in access to education and educational outcomes persist, affecting marginalized communities and perpetuating social divisions.
  4. Teacher Shortage: A severe lack of qualified educators, particularly in rural areas and critical subjects, disrupts the learning process and hinders student development.

These challenges collectively pose a profound threat to Thailand’s education system and, by extension, its future. A nation’s strength lies in equipping its youth with the knowledge and skills to navigate an ever-evolving global landscape. However, the current state of Thailand’s education system impedes this aspiration.

Insufficient funding and the resultant resource shortages compromise the quality of education, leaving students ill-prepared for a future that demands adaptability, creativity, and critical thinking. Educational inequality perpetuates social divisions, limiting the nation’s capacity to harness the full potential of its diverse populace.

In conclusion, the challenges outlined in this report are not isolated issues; they are interconnected strands in a complex web. The future of Thailand depends on addressing these challenges with determination and foresight. A well-funded, inclusive, and quality education system is not just an investment in the present but a beacon guiding the nation toward a brighter, more equitable, and prosperous tomorrow. To ensure Thailand’s place on the global stage, these challenges must be met head-on, placing education at the forefront of the nation’s priorities.


References:

[1]    https://theisaanrecord.co/2022/03/30/thai-education-beset-by-poor-management/

[2]    https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/12/09/world-bank-more-inclusive-and-better-investments-in-education-to-improve-learning-outcomes-in-thailand

[3]    https://blogs.worldbank.org/eastasiapacific/thailand-s-small-school-challenge-and-options-quality-education

[4]    https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000384381

[5]    https://www.undertoldstories.org/2019/02/07/thailands-bamboo-school/

[6]    https://www.adb.org/publications/recent-developments-in-basic-education-in-thailand-issues-and-challenges

[7]    https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/thailand/publication/wanted—a-quality-education-for-all-in-thailand

[8]    https://www.oecd.org/countries/thailand/education-in-thailand-9789264259119-en.htm

[9]    https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/12/09/world-bank-more-inclusive-and-better-investments-in-education-to-improve-learning-outcomes-in-thailand

[10]   https://rksi.adb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/rural-urban-poverty-and-inequality-thailand.pdf

[11]   https://maxwellsnotes.com/2015/03/17/educational-inequality-in-thailand/

[12]   https://one.oecd.org/document/ECO/WKP%282020%2949/en/pdf

[13]   https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/12/09/world-bank-more-inclusive-and-better-investments-in-education-to-improve-learning-outcomes-in-thailand

[14]   https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-10-0847-4_11

[15]   https://one.oecd.org/document/ECO/WKP%282020%2949/en/pdf

[16]   https://blogs.worldbank.org/eastasiapacific/thailand-s-small-school-challenge-and-options-quality-education

[17]   https://jcapsj.org/blog/2023/08/31/teaching-and-learning-in-rural-thailand/

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Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of August, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the tenth edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 1st and 15th of August, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of August, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 16th and 31st of July, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the nineth edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 16th and 31st of July, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of June, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.

Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of July, 2023

Broken Chalk proudly presents the eighth edition of “Education Monitor: Around the Globe” between the 1st and 15th of June, 2023. Broken Chalk aims with this letter to increase public awareness of  Educational problems, challenges, and violations in the scope of the world. This newsletter is unique. This is a weekly newsletter in which we attempt to monitor and convey educational news from around the world in a concise manner. This monitor will be published biweekly with the effort of our young and enthusiastic team.

You can contribute to our work if you like. If you witness any violations in the scope of education, you can write the comment part of this post. Broken Chalk will try to address the issue in its next monitor edition.

To Download it as pdf : Education Monitor: Around The Globe between the 1st and 15th of June, 2023

Broken Chalk Platform, in March 2019, was founded by a group of educators abroad who experienced and have been experiencing severe human rights violations in Turkey and had to ask for asylum currently in several countries.

These education volunteers also suffered greatly and started their new lives in their new countries without human rights violations. They gained respect just because they were considered human beings in those countries. However, they left one part of their minds and hearts in their homeland. They assigned themselves a new duty, and the human rights violations they left behind had to be announced to the World. A group of education volunteers who came together for this purpose started their activities under the Broken Chalk platform’s umbrella. However, the Broken Chalk platform was not enough to serve their aims. Therefore, they completed their official establishment as a Human Rights Foundation in October 2020.

Broken Chalk is now much more than a platform, and we have reviewed and enlarged our vision and mission within this framework. Violations of rights would be the first in our agenda in the field of Education all over the World. At the point we reached today, Broken Chalk opened its door to all individuals from all across the globe, from all professions, and to all individuals who say or can say ‘I also want to stand against violations of human rights in Education for our future and whole humanity, where our generations grow up together.’

Education is essential because it can help us eliminate the evils from society, introduce, and increase the good. We want to draw the public’s and stakeholders’ attention to the fact that Education is in danger in several different parts of the World. The attacks are wide-reaching, from the bombing of schools to the murder of students and teachers. Raping and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred, instigated by armed groups. Attacks on Education harm the students and teachers but also affect the communities in the short and long term.

We invite all individuals who want to stop human rights violations in Education to become Volunteers at Broken Chalk.