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Draconian School Rules

As if Thai schools aren't being known to be dictatorial enough, reportedly a school in Surin has taken it up a notch with excessive rules to supposedly promote patriotism for Thailand's three pilars: Nation, Religion and Monarchy.

According to a document posted on Sunday by Bad Student, a group that works towards the rights of Thai students, the school listed misbehaviour that could result in the deduction of the so-called "behaviour score". Each student has 100 points to start with but if s/he is found to commit wrongdoing then her/his score will be reduced, depending on the severity of their offence. The wrongdoings against the three pillars are the first category of offence. I'm listing all of them here to illustrate how draconian they are.

• If a student does not practise religious ceremonies wholeheartedly, their score will be cut by five points. Minor offence.

• If s/he doesn't stand up during the National Anthem or Thai Royal Anthem, 10 points will be taken out. Medium offence.

• If s/he doesn't sing the National Anthem or Thai Royal Anthem loudly, five points will be taken out. Minor.

• If s/he isn't a good student to the school and the nation, 10 points will be taken out. Medium.

• If s/he is found to undermine the stability of Nation, Religion and Monarchy, 50 points will be removed. Severe offence.

According to Bad Student, the school's director reportedly also said, "If you can't accept these rules, you can quit", to the students during the orientation.

Are we living in North Korea? I can't imagine the audacity the school's management has to issue these kinds of rules when they already have so much say on what goes on in the students' bodies in terms of haircuts and uniforms. I think these rules are unnecessary and harsh and I don't think they can be implemented in a practical manner either.

For instance, how do you know if someone participates in a religious ceremony wholeheartedly? Is there a scanner for that? How loud do you have to sing those songs for it to be considered loud? Do the teachers have to carry handheld decibel metres to check their students?

And give me a break about being khon dee. You really want to task your kids to be good students to the school and the nation? Based on what? On whose criteria? What are you on about!? If they stay out of trouble, don't kill animals for fun and produce satisfying grades, that's good enough!

And the last rule. Are you afraid that students would stage a coup and set the democratic process back as high-ranking Thai soldiers have done?

The only thing I think these rules would achieve is creating a depressive and fearful atmosphere in the school and creating unnecessary extra work for the teachers (who may not agree with enforcing these rules in the first place). I'm sorry, but I feel like these rules are just a flagrant show of power (borderline abuse) by their maker and perhaps an attempt to gain face from the conservative camp. I don't know if their definition of fear equates to loyalty.

In this increasingly disruptive world, schools should focus on how to equip Thai kids with the necessary skills to survive and make something of themselves in the future that doesn't seem to look bright. Or else schools may as well become extinct.

Instead, this school tries to emphasise what many Thai textbooks already have. What a disservice to the kids. They already know what are the three pillars. I guess the school perhaps wants to prepare these kids for other draconian laws in their adulthood.

But then again, I shouldn't be too surprised. When do Thai schools ever advocate freedom of thought or expression?

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Dive Deeper:
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One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Get all your news in one place