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Cheating in School: Is it the Norm in Thailand?

Posted by claudio on February 2, 2015 in Teaching in Thailand |

In short … YES!

Cheating in school seems not only omni-present, but also quite accepted. Perhaps even expected.

This morning I read an article in The Nation about allegations that an O-NET observer was ordered by executives to hint answers to students.

'The Nation' reporting on Cheating in School in Thailand

The Nation reports on cheating during O-NET tests

My instant and sarcastic response was “Cheating in School in Thailand? Really???”

If you have taught at any grade level in Thailand, you know that cheating is as much part of the school system as the national anthem during assembly each morning. Sadly so.

Why Is Cheating in School a Problem?

There is a victim when students cheat in school but it isn’t the school or the test administrator. The real victim is the cheating student, because it will ultimately put them at a disadvantage.

Cheating is Unfair to the Cheater

Why do we attend school in the first place? Is it to learn things we need to live a fulfilling life…or is it to learn how to cheat? The answer is obvious, yet by accepting cheating systematically, schools are sending the signal that cheating is okay. Students will thus put more effort into learning how to cheat than learning the things that are later useful in their lives.

Cheating is Unfair to Other Students

Some students are more interested in a subject or they put in more effort studying a subject. Those are the students that usually excel without the need to cheat. When cheating is accepted, it diminishes the accomplishments of those students. They won’t get an opportunity to shine and ultimately may give up their efforts because they view them as exercises in futility.

Cheating Leads to Uncertainty

When students accomplish something on their own, they feel proud. They have certainty that they have learned a subject well. Students who cheat will know that they haven’t even come close to mastering a subject. They can’t be proud and end up feeling uncertain about their skills and knowledge.

Can You Do Anything About Cheating in School?

In your home country, the answer might be relatively simple. But not in Thailand, because cheating is so prevalent. It’s accepted. It’s expected.

It is said that you cannot change a system from the outside. Unfortunately, as a foreign teacher you are on the outside at most schools. Sorry! So should you just lean back, get over your culture shock when it comes to cheating, and ignore it? Although it is tempting, resist the urge to give in too quickly.

Realize that Thailand, and its school system, is changing. Perhaps slower than you would like but there has been subtle progress in just the last few years. I’m optimistic that this change will be accelerated. I’m also convinced that we can foster this change, even as outsiders.

Last year the following image went viral on Facebook and other social networks. It makes me hopeful, because apparently these anti-cheating hats were not mandated by their teacher. Students at Kasetsart University came up with the idea during a discussion about ethics. Although the school felt embarrassed by the photo going viral and has stopped using this method, it proves that some students realize that cheating in school is a problem.

Hats worn by Thai students to prevent cheating in school

Hats worn by Thai students to prevent cheating in school.

What CAN You Do About Cheating in School?

I have found a number of change-agents in every school I have been to. Some of them are young teachers who haven’t been indoctrinated into the system too much. Even though they are still outsiders themselves, they will at one point become part of the system (and hopefully be able to hold on to their ideals). Some of them are seasoned teachers who know that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Talk with those key players. Use the ever increasing global competition in your discussion and how Thais will compare if they mostly learned cheating in school, rather than skills and knowledge. With the ASEAN Economic Community approaching fast, an increasing number of people in Thailand realize that actually acquiring skills and knowledge (as opposed to good grades) is becoming more important than ever.

Also appeal to your students, not a few days before the midterm or final exams, but at the very beginning of and throughout the semester. Make them aware that cheating is only hurting them.

Depending on the level of your students, you might even create an entire lesson plan around the subject of cheating in school. You could use the above photo of the students at Kasetsart University for a writing class or a discussion about the subject of cheating in school. You may not get through to all of your students, but if you just get through to one or two, you have helped move the needle in the right direction.

What Do YOU Think About Cheating in School?

Is cheating issue in your school? Have you found effective ways to discourage cheating in school? Please leave a comment below, as we all can learn and benefit from each other to make our teaching more effective.




700 Classroom Activities – Book Review

Posted by claudio on January 29, 2015 in Book Reviews |

The title “700 Classroom Activities” says it all. It is chock full with activities that will make your lessons fun, engaging, and exciting for your students. The book is divided into four parts: Part 1: Conversations Part 2: Functions Part 3: Grammar Part 4: Vocabulary The activities in each section of 700 Classroom Activities are arranged alphabetically, so using the book […]


TEFL Courses in Thailand That I Like

Posted by claudio on January 26, 2015 in Teaching in Thailand |

When you look for a TEFL course, you owe it to yourself to chose wisely. After all, it will be the foundation of teaching English in Thailand. Taking a course that trains you well will give you confidence as a teacher and position you well in the job market. Two TEFL Courses I Really Like […]


The Spirit and Beauty of Thailand

Posted by claudio on January 15, 2015 in Living in Thailand |

If you are already in Thailand, you undoubtedly have experienced the beauty of Thailand. The friendly people, the tasty food, the warm climate, and the sights and sounds in all parts of the country are quite unique. If you are planning (or considering) to come to Thailand to teach English, then this video will give you […]


The 12 Core Values of Thailand

Posted by claudio on October 2, 2014 in Teaching in Thailand |

Starting this semester, students from Prathom 1 all the way up to Matthayom 6 are reciting the 12 Core Values of Thailand — either at the daily flag raising ceremony in the morning or during class. As a teacher in Thailand, you should be familiar with these 12 Core Values. Depending on the level of your […]


Thai Vegetarian Festival

Posted by claudio on September 23, 2014 in Living in Thailand |

Vegetarians and Vegans rejoice! Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival is starting today. It is held every year in the 10th month of the Thai Lunar Calendar, starting on the 15th day of the waning of the moon. In 2014 the festival is from September 23 until October 3. Although Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, eating a vegetarian diet is […]

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