Golden Tulip Essential Vasu Hotel, Bangkok– Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, the Minister of Education, presided over a workshop on SO Strategy to prevent and solve the problem of quarrels and fights among vocational students on April 29, 2013. The participants of the meeting included Mr. Pradit Rasitanon, the Deputy Secretary General of the Vocational Education Commission, Mr.BunditSriphutthangkul, the Secretary General of the Private Education Commission, the Deputy-Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, Representatives from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Public Health, the Office of the Royal Thai Police, parents, and school directors.
The Minister of Education stated his opinion at the beginning of the meeting that the problem of students fighting with one another is not an uncommon thing because there are always conflicts at places where a number of people stay together. However, if we let the students continue to fight without setting up any preventive measures, they will continue to behave this way and will ask the other person or group out for a fight, whenever a conflict arises.
More and more violence is used in student fights today than in the past. Parents now begin to reconsider whether they should let their children study in vocational schools because they are worried about safety. News about vocational students violently fightingand ending up with people getting injured or killed has had great impact on the decisions of those who want to study in vocational institutes. They are afraid that studying there might cause them to lose their own lives or lose their friends and family. This kind of news does not come out every day, but it severely affects the feelings of people.
Thailand is still in need of people graduating from a vocational line of education. They account for only 34 percent of all graduated students today. One of the educational goals of our nation is to have 50 per cent of students graduate from vocational institutions and the other half graduate from universities. Therefore, we need to attract people to this line of study and eliminate whatever makes them afraid to do so.
The government needs cooperation from every sector to seriously deal with the problem. In some other countries, student bullying or students fighting within a school is already considered an act of violence. Most schools in other countries will immediately deal with the problem by dismissing the student who uses violence, in order to give a strong warning to others that this kind of behavior is really unacceptable. However, only some vocational schools in Thailand dismiss students who commit violent crimes. Although they ensure that the students can continue their study elsewhere, the act of dismissing the wrongdoing students is a good example for others, for it shows them the consequence of fighting and using violence. This should be a matter for all vocational institutes to consider.
The minister also thanked many public sector organizations that have given their cooperation to solve this problem. There have been times when some conflicts were resolved and the root cause of the problem was removed. He admitted that the cause of conflicts among these students is hard to determine, like the reason why dogs hate cats. It is hard to find out how they can become enemies with students studying in another institution. However, the minister believes that it is possible to change their attitudes. Some graduated vocational students are able to work peacefully in the same organization with those whom they used to fight with in the past. Therefore, taking students from different institutions to participate in activities together is an effective method.
The minister also mentioned that the cause of the problem has been analyzed by psychological experts, such as the Director of Nakhonratchasima Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital. The problem is being studied at the hospital and they are working to find a solution. The result of their study should lead to practical actions that will solve the problem. An opinion was stated in the meeting that it is important to let students know that vocational education can help them get a job with private organizations after graduating. If they are convinced that this kind of education can give them a bright future, they might want focus more on their studies and try to behave well. Currently, the Minister of Education is cooperating with many top companies such as BMW, B.Grimm, and Bosch in order to provide opportunities for vocational students to have on-the-job-training during their studies or getting a real job with good companies after graduating.
In conclusion, the minister asked that every sector should collaboratively find solutions and implement them. He hoped to see more positive news about vocational students through the media and more people studying in vocational institutions for it would have a good impact on the numbers of vocational personnel in Thailand. He looked forward to seeing effective strategies being established to end the problem of vocational students fighting, and hoped that he would be able to report this to the prime minister soon.