By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin recently disclosed that he would propose that National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha amend his order that set up the committees.
In April, Prayut exercised his special powers as the NCPO chief to introduce the provincial committees in the hope of stimulating educational reform.
The committees were expected to promote the integration of relevant agencies and to end problems relating to bribes offered in exchange for positions and transfers of educational personnel and teachers.
However, after the committees began operating, several problems emerged, including rising educational personnel expenses and delays in human resources management.
Directors of educational service area offices have also vigorously protested against the establishment of the committees, which have taken away their power to decide on performance evaluations, salary adjustments and various other personnel-management affairs.
Earlier this week, Teerakiat confirmed he would propose that two separate committees be set up in each province to replace the existing provincial education committees.
The first committee will integrate efforts under the Basic Education Commission, Private Education Commission, Non-Formal and Informal Education Commission, and Vocational Education Commission. The second will handle human resources for the educational sector such as the hiring and transfers of education officials, with directors of regional educational offices serving as ex-officio committee members.
Professor Sompong Jitradub, a lecturer at the Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Education, said yesterday he agreed with the proposed solution.
“During the past months, there have been so many problems between the directors of educational service areas and provincial education committees,” he said.
Sompong said after talking to relevant figures in 16 provinces, he had found there were redundancies that added red tape and caused conflicts.
“Contrary to initial expectations, efforts have not been integrated,” he said.
Sompong added that the provincial education committees had spent 90 per cent of their time handling personnel affairs and had little time to focus on educational quality.
Moreover, he said he had noticed that personnel expenses had increased since the establishment of the committees.
“Personnel expenses have increased from 70 to 80 per cent of the budget of the Education Ministry, lowering the percentage of money schools and students receive,” Sompong said.
Tanachon Mutaporn, who chairs a club of regional educational directors, said he also agreed with the reported solution.
“It’s exactly what I proposed to the Education Ministry during General Dapong Ratanasuwan’s tenure as education minister,” he said.
Setting up a committee to handle personnel affairs would allow the other committee to focus on educational integration and improvement, Tanachon said.
“The committee on personnel affairs will also help prevent corruption and bribery related to transfers and appointments,” Tanachon said.
Office of Basic Education Commission secretary-general Boonrux Yodpheth said the committee would balance the power of regional directors to ensure good governance. “There will be checks-and-balances mechanisms,” he said.