The Bangkok Post reported education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan as saying “a large number of teachers are necessary as we are working on upgrading the entire education system” following the meeting.
English First’s English-language proficiency index currently ranks Thailand in the 74th spot out of 100. Levels of English are slightly higher in cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai and lower in the South and North East.
“[The proficiency of] approximately 75% of English teachers [is] below B1”
The British Council in Thailand told The PIE News that a lack of English proficiency in the country is exacerbated by the proficiency of “approximately 75% of English teachers [being] below B1” and teaching methodology that is often “traditional and not communicative”.
From 2016-18 the British Council worked with Thailand on a professional development program to help 17,000 teachers improve their English skills.
However, the Thai government appears to be particularly focused on hiring teachers from abroad. There are currently around 7,000 foreign teachers in Thai schools but they say a further 10,000 are required.
Foreign English teachers in the country come from varied backgrounds, some being graduates who come to teach for a semester or two, while others are professionally qualified teachers at international schools and universities.
Three years ago, Thailand released a report on how it plans to modernise its education system covering 2017-2036 in which it promotes extensive reform to the current education system as the country prepares to “overcome the middle-income trap towards developed country status within the next 15 years”.
It particularly noted its work with organisations such as the UN and ASEAN, in addition to cooperation with other countries, as showing its intentions towards “improving the quality of education and personnel towards international standards”.
“The Ministry of Education has put an emphasis on proactive action to build strong relationships with Ministries of Education in other countries both at regional and international levels,” the report added.
The British Council further said that discussions regarding teachers were at an early stage and ongoing.