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Educational hazards in the spotlight

Sep 16. 2016
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By Kornchanok Raksaseri

@Aim_TH

Special to The Nation

2,529 Viewed

The focus this week on social media revolved around Thailand’s education system, institutions and personnel. Thai online users have been discussing good and bad hazing activities, the behaviour of brutal teachers, and the accusations of plagiarism plaguin

The case of Chokchai Thongnuakhao, an international maritime student at Kasetsart University, who is in a serious condition after he almost drowned in an on-campus activity, once again sparked a debate on hazing activities for freshmen. The faculty’s dean clarified that it was not a hazing activity and the student had voluntarily gone into the waste water pond and the water in the pond had not been treated.

Weerachai Phutdhawong wrote: “No matter how you twist the words, it was a hazing activity. Please come out and bravely accept it. It has already happened. We have to be responsible for the student’s sickness from the activity that landed him in the pond. No need to argue what the pond was.”

Warat Karuchit wrote: “Besides the campaign against violent hazing activities, parents and educational institutions should build immunity for students so that they are brave enough to refuse any violent or immoral order, or other violation, and know how to avoid any dangerous situation.”

Ed Woranat, a student of the same school as Chokchai, posted a group picture of students and wrote: “Please consume news carefully. Don’t let my school be a scapegoat. Here [this school] it is not for the weak.” His comments invited a lot of backlash.

As violence and death from hazing activities have been making news headlines every year, @Thai_Talk wrote on Twitter: “What do you think will happen to Thai universities first: rank in the top 100 world universities, revoke all hazing activities or revoke student uniforms?”

However, many social-media users shared pictures of creative freshmen welcoming their activities. Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok Uthen Thawai Campus’ students cleaned and repainted traffic signs around Siam Square near their campus.

Jeerapong Prasertpolkrung shared a video clip of Chandrakasem Rajabhat University students cleaning a canal. Thailand School Cute Girl & Cool Boy posted a picture of Chiang Mai University’s hazing tradition “Rub Nong Kheun Doi” [Welcoming the Freshmen up to the Mountain]. The university’s students marched from the campus to Phra That Doi Suthep Temple.

History of Thai Commoners shared an article explaining hazing activities as a heritage from the colonial age. Fagging system was introduced and developed to be SOTUS (seniority, order, tradition, unity and spirit) in Chulalongkorn University, the school originally for civil servants. SOTUS was later mixed with harsher systems developed in other Thai universities some of whose pioneer lecturers passed on the traditions of agricultural school University of the Philippines Los Banos or Cornell University. However, many universities cancelled the hazing traditions before some were revived after the popular uprising of October 14, 1973 led by university students.

Another viral was started when Facebook user Zaii Naruedee posted that her face had become disfigured after a physical education teacher threw a coffee mug at her, as she and her friends refused to sit when ordered. Her nerve was damaged, disfiguring the left side of her face. The school director told the media that the teacher had not intended to throw the mug at the student but it bounced and hit her.

The case was a reminder of many other cases of violence in schools exposed over the past few years.

Tawin_saentrong wrote, “Teachers do not have any right to throw any mug [at students] whether the student was hiding from sunlight or playing on her mobile phone. There are many other ways to correct them, but throwing a cup is definitely not one of them.”

The game “Please describe [something] without saying its name” was popular. Some people changed it to: “Please describe the worst thing a teacher has done without revealing his name.”

Viriya Satien answered: “Throwing a mug on a student’s face.”

Another issue that invited heavy discussions online began when Friends of the River posted pictures asking whether the architectural design for the new Bangkok Museum’s river landmark, widely called “Viman Phra In” (The Heavenly Castle of Indra), was just a copy of the Crystal Island project in Moscow.

Architect Duangrit Bunnag posted that a free model was available at 3dwarehouse of sketchup.com. Many social-media users even used computer programs and free model available at the website to design their own version of the river landmark and compared how similar theirs was to Viman Phra In.

The design team from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang denied plagiarising but later agreed to withdraw their proposed design. Khaohomnattha wrote: “Could you please stop naming KMITL? It was only a few people responsible for the bad work but they gave a bad name to my institution. Use their names instead.”

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