According to figures released by the Ministry of Education, more than 240,000 children have dropped out of the education system. Even after more than 100,000 children come back, there are still more than 100,000 children who still couldn’t be pulled back into the system. Dr. Poomsarun Thongliamnak, Deputy Director of the Equitable Education Research Institute (EEFI) at Equitable Education Fund (EEF), sees it as a worrying number. In the past, there has never been a picture of the Ministry of Education to reveal numbers like this. It is seen that among the groups of children who dropped out of the education system, most children are in the boundary line. For example, children have to change schools in Prathomsuksa 6 (Grade 6) going up to Mathayomsuksa 1 (Grade 7) or children from Mathayomsuksa 3 (Grade 9) going up to Mathayomsuksa 4 (Grade 10), making it difficult for teachers to track down the children. It is also believed that before the outbreak of the coronavirus. Some children have the idea of not going to school. When faced with the COVID situation, they make it easier to make decisions.
Dr. Poomsarun also discussed in an exchange of ideas through the Club House on the issue of growing up on screens, cracking the problem of Thai education. He stated that the problem with children from the epidemic of the coronavirus situation was not only not ready for many schools but also found that most children experienced stress that has long-term effects. Especially children may have been orphaned due to the death of their parents or student guardians from the coronavirus. In Thailand, the number of deaths is about 20,000, bringing about 500 more orphans, making school-aged children directly affected.
As for the documentary “Growing up on screens” created to reflect the problems of education to society, Dr. Poomsarun believed that it may be more effective than various academic works because the problem was visible from online learning with both good and bad sides. Therefore, it is believed that finding a solution to the problem of Thai education should start from improving the system, which should allow both online learning and on-site learning to mix. In addition, school administrators and teachers who are close to children have the power to make decisions and solve problems. From the COVID crisis, it is also found that children can adapt themselves. There is a strong aptitude for online learning, although there are still vulnerable children who may have problems with blended learning in the future. It is considered the main problem that educational personnel must work together to find the middle point of both groups of students who are ready and not ready. They have placed emphasis on the disadvantaged groups in education.
Assistant Professor Atthapol Anantavorasakul, Lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Social Studies Teaching, Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University, and the vice president of Thai Civic Education Foundation, asked about the issue of children’s education from the COVID crisis. Are those in real power who should be responsible for, supervise, plan, and design a healing system using their knowledge to solve problems? Due to the view in the past, Thai education had systemic problems, especially in the issue of decision-making power when they were immediate problems. Although it is said that it is a decentralized administration, it is not precisely decentralized. Still, working under a culture of distrust has forced educators close to children to use documented reporting methods as in the past.
In addition, the solution to the problem of the Thai education system is caused by those involved who do not accept that it is a problem. Over the past two years, from the COVID crisis, most of the children already have self-learning skills. Some children do not communicate with teachers, making even those in the system are still worried because schools are unable to help each child individually. Therefore, the government cannot solve problems with money alone but also requires thorough consideration.
Ms. Mira Weluphak or Mae Bee (Mother Bee), the co-founder of Mappa and Flock Learning, is a mother who sees the problems that arise during the COVID crisis. She indicated that consistently when there was a problem, parents had to adjust themselves by helping each other. As for looking for a solution to this problem, it appears that many children have problems. It’s not just about education but also a family problem, while the education system only worries that children won’t be able to learn. She also noted why the exams were not canceled as they were only imaginary. She saw that the current Thai education system was like letting children run after hypothetical things.
However, from children’s perspectives like Nong View, Mukrin, Tim Dee, students had to stop studying online due to inadequacy. Every child who is not ready wants a scholarship and wants to receive school supplies from the government because they believe that every child has a dream. Like Nong View, she also dreams of becoming a teacher, serving a government job, hoping to use welfare to take care of her mother in the future. Due to this COVID crisis, Nong View has to share his dream in another direction, which is to work as an ironing worker. It is the family’s former occupation because it is seen as a real-life that generates income for the family to have food and use each day.
The production of this documentary, Growing Up on Screens, is not just about using movies to change mindsets. Bringing the problems that have arisen connects with the existing problems. It is also a connection to the sense of being human. How will the government sectors look at ways to solve this problem? or how much will use to improve the system? It depends on how clear the reflection of the educational problem is.