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Bilingual school curriculum must overcome hurdles

Nov 13. 2019
Amnat Wichayanuwat, secretary-general of Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC)
Amnat Wichayanuwat, secretary-general of Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC)
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By The Nation

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Plans to improve Thais’ English proficiency by introducing a bilingual curriculum at all grade levels must overcome snags over school qualifications, the secretary-general of Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) said on Wednesday (November 13). 

Amnat Wichayanuwat said preparations are underway in keeping with Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan’s pledge last week to put the bilingual curriculum in place from kindergarten up at more than 2,000 district schools starting in academic year 2020.

But Amnat said that, to be funded for a Mini English Programme (MEP) classroom, district and sub-district schools must show that their students’ Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) scores have improved for at least the previous three years.

“This is impossible because these schools haven’t even started with the new lessons,” he said.

“To launch the MEP classrooms efficiently, we will therefore adjust the qualification and submit it to the Provincial Schools Admission Committee for consideration.”

Amnat said the OBEC would also reinstate provincial English Resource and Instruction Centres to develop the English curriculum by determining English proficiency among both teachers and students and what areas need improvement.

“And there will be an English proficiency assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standard,” he added. “This will expand the opportunities for education and create equality among educational institutes.”

The OBEC will extend three English-language programmes, he said. 

• An International Programme that uses courses from abroad and relies on native speakers or teachers who are otherwise qualified.

• An Intensive English Programme that offers five lessons per week to take learners to Level B2, which denotes ability to communicate, study and work in a company or country where English is the primary language. 

• A General English Programme that enables children to communicate in English, learning from teachers trained under the “English Boot Camp” project.

The OBEC currently oversees 19 schools with the International Programme in place and 400 where all or some subjects are taught in English.

Relate Story:

Bilingual schooling planned to boost English proficiency

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