Bangkok Buffalo

PhilipD's picture
Submitted by PhilipD on Mon, 2009-06-22 11:20

The standard of schooling may be falling in the West but should anyone think that they cannot fall any further here's a warning.

In January, Bangkok’s Pathumwan Institute of Technology held its science and engineering entrance exams for new students wishing to study at the school. 400 prospective students took the test; one passed. (Experience tells me that the one successful student probably had the answers written on his hand.) After a number of complaints another test was held in May; 200 students attempted this test, not one passed.

Further complaints followed and in a stupid show of solidarity current students threatened to stop going to classes unless another test was given. The institute relented and dropped the ‘pass’ mark down from 50 to 30% and gave another exam. 170 students gave this test a try; just 33 passed. Still not happy, current and prospective students carried out a protest and closed down the road outside the institute and threatened violence if their demands for yet another test were not agreed to. The school was forced to cancel classes for a week.

Finally, after more threats to storm the Office of the Higher Education Commission, the institute agreed to another, still-easier test. A victory for the students, then? Hardly. One of the main purposes for the slightly more stringent test was to screen out those students who hadn't studied at all for the test, but wished to go to Pathumwan, not to study, but to fight; the Pathumwan Institute has a long-standing rivalry with the Rajamangala University of Technology and students often battle openly on the streets of Bangkok with knives, bottles and axes. There have been a number of drive-by shootings and several students have been killed. And another good reason for a more stringent test was that many of the previous students should have never been at the institute in the first place- about 47% were failing in their first year. The school's academic reputation does now, of course, lay in tatters.

Part of the issue here too, is that the students are not use to failing; Thai high schools do not usually fail their students, they just give them a re-sit with an easier test and repeat that process as required until a 'pass' is achieved. That system turns many into lazy, ill-disciplined, closed-minded, smiling idiots. Or, buffalo as we call such people here.

I've just finished a horrid day of teaching. I feel better now. Smiling

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If, for any reason, the

PhilipD's picture

If, for any reason, the students don't like their foreign teacher, then he's out. Could be the best teacher around, wouldn't matter. In fact just one student with a grudge and powerful parents could get you the sack. I've never had a problem in that regard but I'm off to Cambodia just as soon as I can get organised; the difference in attitude towards education between Thais and Cambodians is striking.

Similar here in the late 80s early 90s

gregster's picture

At the Auckland Institute of Technology, they had students fill out forms rating their tutors. The teachers who'd given most 'dodgy' assistance towards tests were duly rewarded - the surveys counted towards the teachers' remuneration.

And they had already brought in repeat attempts at tests. Similar questions each time. An eye-opener after my secondary school standards.

THAT'S the sort of examination process

Jameson's picture

our Maori Party leader would like for his people. Evil

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