Fears are being expressed that cutting Thai teaching degree courses from five to four years will deliver lower-quality graduates that damage an already ailing education system. The four-year Dutch teaching degree, however, shows how Thai student-teachers may actually benefit from the cut – provided the new course is properly designed.
In the Netherlands, trainee primary school teachers must pass “general pedagogical teaching package/practical training” to earn their bachelor of education degree. Trainee secondary school teachers follow the same four-year track but then specialise in one subject, for example chemistry, mathematics, etc.
A glance at the global rankings for universities offers strong evidence that the four-year Dutch programme works well. Thirteen Dutch universities feature in the Times Higher Education top 250 and QS top 400, an impressive number for a small country of just 17 million people.
The Dutch example shows that a four-year track can lead to better education results – though only if other conditions are already in place. To be effective, a teaching degree must also cultivate a proper learning mindset, determination, motivation, dedication and self-direction, while also providing essential tools like online education to trainee teachers.