At a protest earlier this month, a large banner was unfurled on the side of an overpass that read, “1.8 million children are about to fall out of the school system due to online instruction that doesn’t give a shit about them.” A young girl also hung herself over the side, a mock public suicide. The protest by the pro-democracy youth group Bad Student was a part of a six-day “online school strike.”
The catalyst for the student strike is the combination of the government’s gross incompetence in slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged closure of educational institutions throughout Thailand. As a result, millions of Thai students have had no other option but to continue their studies online. Unfortunately for many, the lack of government preparedness for a major disruption to primary and secondary education, the financial strain caused by the pandemic, extreme levels of income inequality and high levels of household debt have created a dilemma for Thai students that is often well beyond their ability to control.
MARK S. COGAN