(23 January) Public schools in 14 southern provinces remain closed down due to anti-government campaign, Minister of Education said.
Mr. Chaturon Chaisaeng said hundreds of schools and colleges in these provinces have been forced to cease operations by supporters of People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD).
As a campaign to pressure Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra into resigning from her caretaker position, PCAD has previously vowed to close down state agencies and public schools across the southern region – the stronghold of anti-government movements.
According to Mr. Chaturon, some provinces see shutdown of every single public school in the province, such as Chumpon, while other provinces see partial shutdown of public schools.
46 out of 80 registered vocational colleges have also been closed down by the protesters, Mr. Chaturon added.
"I have been informed that these educational establishments have to close down because they have been intimidated by the protesters," Mr. Chaturon said.
He also told our correspondent that although many schools in Bangkok remain open, many students and teachers are absent because they have great difficulty going to schools, due to numerous roadblocks set by PCAD supporters. The absent rate is around 15%, Mr. Chaturon said.
He suggested that parents, students, and teachers of schools closed down by PCAD should directly negotiate with the protesters about the possibility of resuming the teaching session, since the PCAD has refused to negotiate with Ministry of Education.
"They are bent on changing the system, regardless of losses and damages," Mr. Chaturon fumed.
The Minister also asserted that Thailand is facing an educational crisis not experienced since the Second World War, during which many schools are forced to close down by the Japanese Army.
Nevertheless, Mr. Chaturon said, the Ministry has urged public schools across the country to educate their students about the upcoming 2 February general election.
"This would help strengthen the learning of democracy among students," Mr. Chaturon said.
However, students can exercise their rights and opt out of pro-election activities organised by the school, Mr. Chaturon stressed.
His comment came few days after a group of students in Ayutthaya province protested against their school director for allegedly forcing them to participate in a pro-election demonstration.
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