OBEC tells schools to allow expression of political views on campus

High school students hold up blank sheets of paper and raise their hands with a three-fingered defiance salute at the Samsen Wittayalai school in Bangkok, Thailand .

Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) has instructed all educational offices to tell schools under their supervision to open a space on campus, to allow students and teachers to exercise free expression of political issues within the framework of the law.

In an urgent circular, OBEC reminded school administrators of the students’ right to free expression, to ensure the safety of the students and to ban outsiders from participating in their political activities.

OBEC’s move came hot on the heels of the Ministry of Education’s approval for all schools to allow students to express political views and hold political activities on school grounds, on the condition that remain within the limits of the law.

It is reported that a political forum was held at the demonstration school at Maha Sarakham University yesterday, to allow about 100 secondary students and their teachers to exchange political views.

Many of the female students were seen wearing a white ribbon in their hair, which is a symbol of the Free People protest movement, currently campaigning for a new Constitution, the dissolution of Parliament and an end to harassment of anti-government protesters by the police.

Some teachers were quoted to have said that political expression by students should be treated as normal and it would be better if students to express their political views on campus, rather than outside, which could be risky.

The wearing of white ribbons and the three-finger sign among students appear to have swept across the country, making it a new political phenomenon in Thailand.

 

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