Bangkok Post

Obec pulls out of school project

- DUMRONGKIA­T MALA

The Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) has decided to scrap its ICU schools project, launched with the aim of helping 5,032 small schools nationwide improve standards.

Obec secretary-general Boonrak Yodpetch yesterday announced Obec has decided to end its ICU schools project after it spent a total of 500 million baht improving conditions at 1,964 small-sized schools by renovating buildings and facilities and hiring more teachers over the past year.

“We have solved some of the problems by improving the conditions of almost 2,000 schools that urgently needed help. We have decided to end this programme because we think we can help the remaining 3,000 schools under the project through our normal budgeting system,” he said.

Apart from the ICU schools project, Obec also plans to end or merge some other projects as they have required teachers to spend a lot of time outside the classroom dealing with paperwork.

“If teachers have less external projects to deal with, they will have more time to spend with students inside classrooms,’’ Mr Boonrak said.

However, a school director who asked not to be named said many schools under the ICU schools project are stunned by Obec’s decision because there are still 3,000 schools under the project that have not received any Obec help.

He said schools under the scheme were likely to get quicker budget approval for developmen­t of facilities and teachers’ recruitmen­t.

“For example, there are 2,261 schools under the projects grappling with teacher shortages. Most of these poor schools have only one teacher to teach all subjects, but only 427 schools have been provided with new teachers,” he said.

He said he did not understand why Obec added so many schools to the project in the first place. He also questioned Obec’s criteria for selecting which schools should get help and which should not.

The ICU schools projects was created last year by Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsett­asin. Obec was initially assigned to select the 3,000 ICU schools that required urgent support.

The number of schools under the project was later raised to 5,000 while the budget was doubled from 500 million to 1 billion baht.

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