Thammasat U vice rector refutes allegation of distorting Thai history

Thammasat University’s vice rector for sustainability and administration, Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, has refuted a media outlet’s allegations that the university’s demonstration school has distorted the teaching of Thai history and the monarchy and has questioned the need for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to order an investigation into the matter.

In his Facebook post on Saturday, Assistant Professor Prinya said he wonders where the prime minister received such information or whose Facebook post that he had read.

He said that the main problem in the Thai education system is the use of rote learning and students being taught just to listen to their teachers and not think for themselves.

“This is an autocratic form of education which will not lead to creative thinking and wisdom in Thailand and this educational system does not promote democracy, because it teaches people to just listen to those in power,” said Prinya.

At Thammasat demonstration school, he explained that the school was founded to teach students to think by themselves and self-discipline, not to teach them to follow orders, which differs from the education system with which the prime minister is familiar.

He asked the prime minister to check the information about alleged distortion of Thai history and the monarchy before ordering relevant agencies to investigate the school.

According to the “Mappa” Facebook page on January 31st, Associate Professor Dr. Anuchart Puangsamlee, president of Thammasat University’s demonstration school, said that the school had dropped several courses from its curriculum, such as the boy and girl scout course, and replaced it with a survival course instead.

He said there is no point in teaching students to tie knots or to carry flags. It is better to teach students how to handle a fire extinguisher, first aid treatment and to swim, so they won’t drown, not to teach them to be a swimming champion.

Dr. Anuchart was also quoted to have said that the school is not strict on uniforms or hair styles, does not teach Buddhism or to stand in front of a flag pole when the national anthem is played in the morning.

School is not only supposed to teach students, but to create an environment for learning, he was quoted to have said.

According to the same Facebook page, Dr. Anuchart also met with Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, a history professor at Wisconsin-Madison school in the United States, who recently visited the school.  

Dr. Thongchai is well known for his anti-monarchy stand.


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