The most recent education reform policy in Thailand officially began in 1999, when the National Education Act came into force. It was considered the most comprehensive reform in Thailand’s history. Since 1999, many governments and ministers of education assumed power. They could be separated into three groups: (1) the Democrat Party; (2) the Thai Rak Thai Party from 2001-2006 and the People’s Power Party in 2008 associated with Thaksin Shinawatra; (3) the government led by General (retired) Surayud Chulanont appointed by the military junta after the coup d’état in September 2006 against the Thaksin government. This paper analyses the obstacles to reform in Thai education policy by focusing on the roles of governments based on a top-down approach to policy implementation analysis. The data is obtained through analysis of key documents and semi-structured interviews. Interviewees included: politicians, bureaucrats and other key stakeholders such as scholars and members of civil society organisations involved in education. Based on a top-down approach, there are five major factors which obstructed the implementation of the education reform policy from 1999-2009, namely: (1) the size of target groups involved and affected and the extent of change required by the policy; (2) the ambiguity of the National Education Act as the main framework for the policy; (3) the lack of one main agency responsible for implementation and the lack of agreement on the education reform policy; (4) different levels of commitment and leadership of the governments; and (5) political instability in Thailand from 2006-2009.
Thipsarin Phaktanakul, University of Canberra, Australia
Stream: International Relations and Human Rights
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