The Nation reported yesterday that Thailand has set aside a budget of 100 million baht to send 1,137 teachers abroad to brush up their English. The chosen teachers will have an opportunity to attend English training in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Each will get about 100,000 baht to pay for expenses while staying in the foreign country, but they do have to pay for their own airfare.
On first glance, this may look like bad news for foreign English teachers in Thailand. Are they doing this to make the Thai teachers more proficient and thus position them to replace the foreign English teachers at their school? I don’t think so. To get Thai teachers to the level of a native English speaker would require much more than 100,000 baht and one month of training abroad. I rather read this article as good news for foreign English teachers. It shows that Thailand is starting to take English more seriously to prepare its citizens for the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
The article also mentions an initiative to provide a 30-hour English language course to people in other occupations, provide a monthly budget of 10,000 baht for schools to hire foreign English teachers, and ease the regulations concerning the need for licenses for foreign teachers. To me, this news article looks very positive. These new initiatives will most likely provide expanded opportunities for foreign English teachers in Thailand. What are your thoughts?