Thai English teachers visit Brunei
A DELEGATION of 126 Thai teachers are in Brunei this week, visiting local schools and other sites of cultural interest to view its teaching methodology in schools as well as to experience the local culture of its ASEAN partner as the 2015 deadline for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) approaches.
The delegation - made up of teachers from 30 schools involved with Thailand’s English Programme from the Central and Eastern provinces of Thailand - made its first stop at the Chung Ching Middle School (CCMS) in Seria yesterday to observe classes in progress.
“We want to look for ideas to improve our own English programmes in Thailand by looking at Brunei’s teaching system. Next year, we will be coming into the AEC and we want to visit all ASEAN members by then,” said Dr Ngampit Lawakorn, Deputy Director of Secondary Educational Services (Area Office 1), Thai Ministry of Education.
“In the future, we hope that our students can exchange ideas and connect, possibly under a student exchange programme... We are working with Brunei’s Ministry of Education for this. This is our first visit from the Ministry. We want to find out as much as we can about Brunei. To us, we feel it is similar to Malaysia and Indonesia,” she said, adding that follow-up visits from all 250 English programme schools in Thailand are in the pipeline.
CCMS principal Loo Kuan Lein reflected that the observations from a private school such as CCMS might differ from those made at a government school.
“We follow all the guidelines of national curriculum but private schools may have a different way of sourcing teaching and learning materials. For example, a large majority of private school teachers are untrained as teachers, whereas government school teachers are fully trained... therefore, teaching methodologies will vary,” said Loo, who said private school resources such as teaching aids were more limited.
However, he also said that student backgrounds at private and public government schools affect results in public examinations and that school effectiveness should not be measured solely by public examination results.
“In today’s 21st century, we talk about professionalism, values and teacher identity... the community of teachers and students are important to the school,”
He added that Chinese schools teach Mandarin and Malay as subjects but use English as the medium of instruction, which would be immediately obvious to the Thai visitors: “The Thai delegation wants to look at our methodology, how we set up our classroom and learning environments.”
Thailand views English as critical to the success of its AEC plan and was the first ASEAN member to present a comprehensive action plan for meeting its targets by the 2015 deadline. All ten member states have agreed to use English as the language for business under the AEC.
The Brunei Times