Saturday, August 13, 2005

TOEICs and Deadlines

Tales from the other programs continue to show what a laughable situation the education system in Thailand is.

It seems that the school is now being very careful now when they are hiring staff. One guy who got interviewed last week got the 5th degree. During the interview he was asked about the previous schools he had listed on his CV. They then got a phone and phoned the school there and then to check! He was also asked for the phone number of his university and the lecturers he had at university. Wow! In one way I suppose its quite good that they are doing this in that it should weed out all the fakie guys but then if they are that serious during the interview, they should also be serious about their program.

One teacher in Mathayom has been told that of his classes at least 75% must get an A. The reason? They all play football for the school so the school can no doubt boast that its students can excel at both academic and sporting activities. If it wasn’t so serious then it would be laughable.

No wonder Thailand scored so lowly in that international TOIEC test.

From the Bangkok Post 10th August 2005

Tests put Thais near bottom in S.E Asia


Special English-language curriculums are being drafted for staff in six major industries after tests revealed Thais have the second-worst English language skills in Southeast Asia.

The finding, compiled by educational testing services, is worrying those wanting Thailand to become a regional hub of car manufacturing, medical care, spas, cuisine and fashion.

The director of the Higher Education Commission's English proficiency development centre, Achara Wongsothorn, said in the 12 months to June, Thai students came eighth in the nine Southeast Asian countries rated by TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language), scoring on average only 201 on the cumulative 300 scale.

Of the six countries in the region rated by the multiple-choice TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), Thai students ranked fourth overall with an average 524 of the full 990 score.

In TOEFL tests, Thais averaged one higher than Cambodians (200) and two lower than Lao students (203). Singapore topped the region (252), followed by the Philippines (234), Malaysia (224), Burma and Indonesia (214) and Vietnam (205).

In TOEIC tests, Thais averaged 524, compared with the Philippines (751), Singapore (628), Cambodia (606), Indonesia (471) and Vietnam (446).

Ms Achara said the number of participants from each country varied greatly and this could affect the overall comparison of results. For example, about 9,000 Thais took the TOEFL test but only 33 Lao. Even so, the Philippines managed to come second with about 10,000 test participants.

She said results of English tests in 2002-2005 university entrance exams also reflected Thais' poor English skills, with scores as low as 30-40 out of 100.

The poor results would seriously affect the country's competitiveness in the global market.

Deputy director Siriporn Pornsurapipat said the Thais' poor English proficiency was likely to be a barrier to the government's plan to turn Thailand into the centre of businesses under the Detroit of Asia, Medical Hub, Capital of Spa, Thai Kitchen World Cuisine and Bangkok Fashion City projects.

The centre was trying to solve the problem by drafting English proficiency improvement curriculums for personnel in six important industries _ tourism, fashion, health science, food, automobile and information technology, she said.

The centre already had similar curriculums for staff in 23 professions, including physicians, dentists and nurses, bus drivers, maids and hotel security guards.

These curriculums were free of charge to workplaces, including handbooks and other education material, but the employers must find instructors and run the courses themselves.”

And the official response to this from the government? They have set up a months deadline to come up with a plan to improve the score. Goddam. What is it with this country and deadlines. The Pm is all for doing this. This country will be drug free within 6 months. There will be no traffic problems in Bangkok within 3 months, the airport will be open in 1 year…….. Bwaa haa haa haa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe if they got off their arses and did something instead of setting up stupid deadlines something would be done. Maybe if they allowed people to fail it would improve things. Maybe if they stopped corruption in schools it would change. Maybe if they stopped the culture of cheating it would change. Maybe I should just stop dreaming. Those things will never happen. There are too many people who like the system as it is. Keep the common people stupid, feed them some leftovers at election time and then just carry on as before.

Back to my backyard. Unlike American schools where they talk about The Class of 94 or 05 or whatever the graduating year is. At this school it’s the number of years since the school started. So the class who will finish this year are Class 154. I think that kind of nice. But when it gets to class 1840 it will be a bit of a mouthful. Assuming of course the school survives that long.

An interesting story came across my ears about all the downloading that had been going on and the “slowing down the connection” in the school. Seems that somebody who has a bit more IT knowledge than me ( not too difficult I know ) had done a little research and a trace. The result was a little surprising. Yes, some teachers had downloaded music, but then so had virtually all thai staff. It turns out that one big culprit was a thai male member of staff who had been downloading gay porn movies – hundreds and hundreds of Megabites worth. Hmm. A male at an all boys Christian school downloading gay porn. Back home of course there would be outcries galore with parents demanding the teacher be fired, police investigations etc etc here, the thing will all depend how much clout he has. Some new guy? Might be asked to leave ( doubt it would even be that much ). Some high up? Probably wont even be mentioned to him. Of course if it had been found out that farang staff had downloaded porn – of any sort – it would be immediate dismissal.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify- ALL classes in Mathayom were told that (1) 75% or more must get a grade of 3 or 4 AND the class average must be at least 75%.

Consider this- in the West, generally, 4 = A, 3 = B, 2 = C, 1 = D (and a "D" is basically the equivalent of a high fail).

At this school, a grade of 70 gets a "3". So a kid who is one point from a high fail in the West can get the same grade as a kid in the West who is one point away from an "A".

And, to top it off, that kid who gets a "3" here may have actually had a grade below 60%, but it was raised to meet the quota!

On the bright side, the school offers a special service for teachers whose students don't make the grade- the school will arbitrarily raise the grade after it has been submitted by the teacher.

No wonder that Thai students can barely walk and pick their noses at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Wow they were walking about? I usally see them sleeping on the floor all tucked in with their jackets. aahhh such little darlings.

As for the Prathom students they so high on sugar, MSG and formalin plus unknown artifical, mechanically recovered, nature identical colours,flavours and sweetners.
Im amazed they even see the work their given do with all the fairies and pixies dancing around in their red skirts in front of the teacher.

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Ernest said...

Teacher Ernest,

It's the same in every Thai school. I've taught at 3 different schools here in Bangkok and have realized that it is more important that the color of the ink used in the grade books is more important than the grades. If the grade is written in blue ink instead of black then it is wrong. Today I had my Thai Manager tell me that Thai people believe that if the easy and small things are done well then then difficult or big things can be done better. My response was that they spend so much time trying to make the little things look good that they don't have time to effectively take care of the important things. The bulletin board in the room must be beautiful, the desks lined up perfectly etc. But what about the fact that the EP4 student CAN'T write a complete sentence let alone write a 5 paragraph essay that the school wants me to be teaching??!!

Until they get serious about letting students fail there is no hope for the educational sysytem in this country. I teach at one of the top 5 all boys high schools in Thailand ( run by Catholics ) and these boys will run Thailand one day. God help this country in 10 to 20 years.

Teacher Ernest

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