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Suchart welcomes 'donations' to schools

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Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej is set to legalise the acceptance of "tea money", which has long been described as bribery and a despicable custom.

His move, however, drew quick condemnation. Speaking to directors of famous schools via a teleconference about the admissions policy for the upcoming academic year, Suchart said yesterday: "I am not going to call it 'tea money'. I will call it 'a donation'".

He said schools that felt the subsidy provided by the Education Ministry was inadequate could call for donations from parents and open separate classrooms for their children.

"You can do that. You just have to make clear announcements and do so in a transparent manner," he said.

Suchart said financial donations from parents should be spent for the benefit of all students at schools given money. And the children of donors must have a fair level of academic knowledge. He did not think children with too poor academic results would be allowed into famous schools in exchange for donations.

The new minister said donations from well-off people had sustained educational services since time immemorial and it was common for schools to accept the children of donors.

Suchart urged famous schools, like demonstration schools Satri Wittaya and Suan Kularb Wittayalai, to double their support to less-equipped schools. He said the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) had found that more than 10,000 schools had quality problems.

Building Thailand Club president Amnuay Sunthornchote condemned Suchart's policy, saying that it would revive the practice of money-for-school seats that had nearly been stamped out.

"I am so disappointed with this new education minister," he said.

Amnuay vowed to take any action needed to stop the legalisation of the acceptance of "tea money".

Chulalongkorn University lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Sompong Jitradub said Suchart's school-admissions policy was not about sharing at all.

"It's not about using the rich people's money to benefit the poor. Rather, it's about injustice. Children of the powerful and the rich will have many more advantages," he said.

Sompong did not think famous schools would be able to take donations in a transparent manner for the benefit of all their students.

"In the end, at least some portion of the donated money will not go to schools but into the pocket of someone," he said.

Satri Wittaya School director Jamnong Jamjanwong also expressed concern about Suchart's admissions policy.

"I have to check further detail and the objective of this policy first. Any rush to implement it may lead to injustice and corruption," she said.

Jamnong felt the policy would be hard to implement.

"What if so many parents offer donations? What criteria will be used to choose students then?" she said.

Benjamarachalai School director Sumonrat Assatarakul suspected some miscommunication after she heard about the financial-donation-for-school-seats policy.

"This policy is clearly against the Obec admission regulations and this means it won't be possible to follow the policy," she said.

Obec secretary-general Chinnapat Bhumirat said in a separate interview that 290 schools were so popular that competition for seats there was fierce.

"But there are many other good schools for parents to consider too. Please check relevant information at a fair held by Obec at Impact Muang Thong Thani between March 15 and March 17," he said.

More...

Bribery is now legal?

Edited by FarangFarang

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Activist eyes court action over 'tea money' move

BANGKOK: -- An activist yesterday vowed to take Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej before the Administrative Court and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) over his controversial move to legalise the acceptance of "tea money" by famous schools.

Building Thailand Club president Amnuay Sunthornchote demanded that Suchart declare his decision to abandon his donation-for-school-seat policy within three days.

"If not, I will lodge a complaint against him with the Administrative Court next week. I will also complain to the NACC to ensure he faces criminal action, too," Amnuay said.

He said Suchart's policy would encourage discrimination against people on the basis of financial status.

"The policy will also destroy good values in Thai society. If the policy is implemented, rich children will grow up feeling that money can buy everything while cash-strapped children will feel inferior and unfairly treated," he added.

He said complaints would also be filed against Chinnapat Bhumirat, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec).

"I will sue all schools that implement the donation-for-school-seat policy as well," Amnuay said.

On Monday, Suchart drew immediate criticism after he issued a policy for famous schools to accept donations transparently from parents, and in return recruit their children.

Despite criticism, the education minister yesterday stood by his decision and lashed back at his critics.

"The critics just don't accept the reality," he said. He pointed out that children do not really have equal educational opportunities anyway, because children of the well-off are able to go to quality institutions such as well-equipped international schools, while those from poor families do not have that opportunity.

"We must accept the fact that state subsidies for schools are not adequate for the delivery of quality educational services. Therefore, we must allow the schools to accept donations. The donations will be accepted transparently and spent for the benefit of all students. The donations are not bribes," he insisted.

In his opinion, donations by willing well-to-do parents would benefit schools and all of their students, including those from cash-strapped families.

Suchart said the number of school seats would be increased to accommodate donors' children, without any adverse impact on those children whose parents did not volunteer financial contributions.

Chinnapat said Suchart's policy could be implemented under Obec regulations, such as the one governing special classrooms, which allow the collection of high tuition fees.

However, Satri Wittaya School director Jamnong Jamjanwong said she was very cautious about the latest admission policy. She said she would seek approval from the school's board and the board of the local Educational Service Area Office before implementing it.

"We will need to inform parents in advance, too," she said, adding that any rush might lead to problems.

http://www.thailandfriends.com/showthread.php/48654-Suchart-welcomes-donations-to-schools

It just blows my mind that this guy sees absolutely nothing wrong with allowing people to bribe their way into schools. The part he seems to fail to realize is that by allowing in wealthy children who are not bright enough to get into school on their own academic merits bring everyone else down. The classes have to be dumbed down for them. If they had good enough grades to get into these highly competitive schools they wouldn't need to pay tea money in the first place.

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http://www.thailandfriends.com/showthread.php/48654-Suchart-welcomes-donations-to-schools

It just blows my mind that this guy sees absolutely nothing wrong with allowing people to bribe their way into schools. The part he seems to fail to realize is that by allowing in wealthy children who are not bright enough to get into school on their own academic merits bring everyone else down. The classes have to be dumbed down for them. If they had good enough grades to get into these highly competitive schools they wouldn't need to pay tea money in the first place.

He is right in his assessment that this is already going on, and in a large way. What he doesn't get, and this shows his stupidity, is you don't change the distribution system already in place for the money received as bribes now. He is neive to think anyone is going to take a huge pay cut by giving their bribe money to the school system. It ain't gonna happen, and will very easily cost him his job if he presses it further. I'm surprized someone hasn't made it clear to him already how things work.

This is another good example of the government putting unqualified people in positions of responsibility. Instead of dealing with the issue of poor educational training in the schools, he's more worried about legitimizing the bribe money already coming in, without a clue as to how it works.

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