BANGKOK — Under new orders from the Office of Basic Education of Thailand (OBEC), criticism of the military junta is now banned in all Thai public schools.
The order, issued by the OBEC earlier this week, bans the dissemination of “provocative," "violence-condoning," or "false" information that could encourage students to disrespect laws or "oppose the mission of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)."
The new education guidelines also prohibit public school officials from participating in political protests or hosting any demonstrations or political seminars in their schools. Teachers are asked to encourage students and their families to avoid all political demonstrations as well.
According to the order, teachers must "cooperate with and support the mission of the NCPO in every level,” and teach lessons "that focus on the creation of reconciliation."
Since seizing power in a coup d'etat on 22 May, the Thai military junta has set out to achieve “national reconciliation" by cooling the heated political tensions that led to street protests and sporadic violence over the past six months.
In pursuit of this ambitious goal, the military has severely restricted political expession by detaining scores of activists, banning political protests, and censoring the press.
The junta has combined the effort to silence critics with a campaign to “return happiness to the Thai people” by way of free concerts and other "feel-good" events and propaganda.
The deputy secretary of the OBEC, Mr. Kamol Rordklai, said yesterday that he is also considering revising school textbooks to reinforce a sense of patriotism among schoolchildren in support of the NCPO's reconciliation project.
"We will improve modules in history, citizen duty, and morality, in accordance with the NCPO's policy, so that the children will know about unity and love for their country,” Mr. Kamol said.
Mr. Kamol said he has already presented these ideas to the NPCO.
"NCPO thinks they are very appropriate, because the country has seen much conflict in the society," Mr. Kamol told reporters.
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