The National Pilot Project

Learning Reform Schools for Developing Quality of Learners (Amornvivat, 2002: 1; Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 2)

The Organization: Office of the National Education Commission (ONEC) with supports of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) (Amornvivat, 2002: 1; Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 2)

Duration: 1990-1991 (9 months, Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 10) (Amormvivat, 2002: 1)

** Research Funding**: Thai government

Participants (Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 10) a voluntary basis (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 2)

  1. 253 schools (3 schools, however, drop out) selected from 3,800 educational institutions (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 2)
  2. 10, 094 teachers
  3. 224,471 students
  4. 44 research and development teams (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 10)
    1. 30 teams of Rajabhat institutes;
    2. 11 teams of Faculty of Education of Universities;
    3. 2 teams of ONPEC educational supervisors;
    4. 1 team of an NGO organization

The project focuses on basic education (Atagi, 2002: 13).

Objectives

  1. to make authentic learning experiences and empower the learners (master teachers, school administrators, and students) to take more active leadership role in implementing the education reform envisaged by the National Education Act B.E. 2542 (Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 10);
  2. to strengthen the capacity of the Thai government to pursue sustainable and quality development in teaching and learning (Atagi, 2002: 2);
  3. to encourage the schools to implement whole-school learning reform, with emphasis on improving quality of the students (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 3);
  4. to encourage the schools to take a professional approach to reform of learning, assessment and administration to ensure whole-school internal quality assurance (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 3);
  5. to encourage the schools to serve as reform nodes for further expansion or models for other schools (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 3);
  6. to enable the teams of academic/local researchers to participate in the reform and learn from their collaborative efforts with the schools (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 3)
  7. to strengthen the capacity of the Thai government to carry out the education reforms mandated by the National Education Act 1999 (Fry, 2002: 1);
  8. to improve teaching and learning, administrative leadership, and community accountability (Fry, 2002: 1);
  9. enable ONEC to introduce its education improvement model in schools (Fry, 2002: 1)

Components
The National pilot project focuses on four components of the education reform as follows (Atagi, 2002: 2):

  1. School reform policy;
  2. Teacher education;
  3. Information technology for education;
  4. Education improvement model.

However, Fry (2002: 1) claimed that there are three components: refinement of strategies to promote students
-centered learning, continuous assessment, and school-based management.

Basic Assumptions

  1. School-based, whole-school, bottom-up approaches (Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 10). The whole-school reform involves developing the learning capacity of students, developing teachers and principals leading to effective teaching and learning as well as assessment, school management with internal quality assurance, and promoting quality control from outside (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 11).
  2. Implementation the education reform should be gradually developed through ongoing processes; simple manners to more complex ones (Pillay, 2002: 10-11)
  3. Collaboration among schools, teacher education institutions, and other agencies to join efforts in developing networks through exchanges of learning at levels of individuals, groups, and organizations (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 5)
  4. Implementation of activities for whole-school learning reform therefore has the objectives of further improving what already exists and initiating innovations (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 5) เศรษฐกิจพอเพียง The step taken by no means interfere with the responsibilities of all parties concerned, but are, on the contrary, attuned to the day-to-day school life (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 5)
  5. capacity building at the local level is a major feature of the project (Fry, 2002: 1).
  6. readiness of schools around the country to implement learning and education reform (Fry, 2002: 5)
  7. A bottom-up rather than top-down approach to change (Fry, 2002: 4).
  8. use of a new model of collegial, collaborative, and consultative "supervision" involving research&development team to assist participating schools (Fry, 2002: 4).
  9. emphasis on an integrated approach to curriculual change (Fry, 2002: 4).

Methods

  1. Workshops are held to introduce participants why and how new teaching and learning approaches are needed and to introduce the current concept of the acquisition of knowledge (Pillay, 2002: 12). Through numerous workshops, schools were provided broad guideliens related to conduct the project (Fry, 2002: 5).
  2. Project-based learning is simply introduced to teachers as a learner-centered approach (Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 11).
  3. Plan, Develop, Check, and Act (PDCA) model of action research is introduced for school management and used as a strategy to mentor teachers (Atagi, 2002: 42; Pillay, 2002: 11). It is also called collaborative action research of all the 250 schools together with 44 teams of local researchers (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 4, 11). Schools had to develop their own distinct and creative ways to achieve student-centered learning reform and school management by a PDCA model (Fry, 2002: 5).

In case of (collaborative) action research, the schools learn the status and learning reform problems of the students as well as those of schools and then construct bodies of knowledge about learning process and evaluation, school-based management, and internal quality assurance, based on their own action research (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 4-5).

There are two phases: 1 and 2 (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 6):
Phase 1 aims:

  • to identify the desirable direction and strengths of the school personnel as well as those of the community, availability of alternatives for whole-school learning reform in acord with the social and cultural context of the community where the school is located;
  • to build awareness of responsibilities, self-evaluation, and personnel development

Phase 2 aims:

  • to initiate reforms of process of organizing teaching and learning activities, assessment of teachers, school-base management process through an action research (PDCA cycle)

Findings of the action research in the 250 schools have been synthesized for presentation of models of whole-school learning reform, those for school-based management, internal quality assurance. support to local researchers for whole-school learning reform (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 11).

Results

All pilot schools have changed their culture, with increased emphases on participation, teamwork, consultation, and learning together (Nonglak Wiratchai cited by Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 14).

Public

It successfully develops an awareness of the education reform among all stakeholders. Moreover, it generates public debate about the urgent need for the education reform, new teaching and learning methods, and new managements (Pillay, 2002: 10).

Teachers

Teachers are enthusiastic to experiment with new teaching and learning tasks (Pillay, 2002: 10).
There is tremendous interest and enthusiasm by teachers to be actively involved in the learning reform (Atagi, 2002: 42).

School Administrators

School administrators become aware of their role to support and facilitate teachers in their endeavors (Pillay, 2002: 10).
There is tremendous interest and enthusiasm by administrators to be actively involved in the learning reform (Atagi, 2002: 42).

Parents

Parents are excited to involve in their children's learning (Pillay, 2002: 10).

Researchers

Research and development teams recognize the need to change their role and be more closely involved with schools (Pillay, 2002).

Students

There is tremendous interest and enthusiasm by students to be actively involved in the learning reform (Atagi, 2002: 42).

Comments

  • Introduction many new concepts such as school-based management, student-centered approaches, school-based teacher development simultaneously, it is very daunting for all stakeholders. So long-term supports and continuous training are necessary in the introduction phase (Pillay, 2002: 13).
  • There are needs to inject new ideas or concepts to help teachers to change their practices because teachers might not have sufficient knowledge and skills to be innovative (Pillay, 2002: 13). Workshops are recommended (Pillay, 2002: 13).
  • Experts or outside researcher who support teachers must have enough knowledge and skills (Pillay, 2002: 13).
  • Alternative methods of delivering information and supporting the ongoing professional development of teachers should be considered (Pillay, 2002:14). Moreover, it is necessary to explore other delivery methods to provide continuous and developmental support to teachers (Pillay, 2002: 14). Devlivering information about the new concepts and practices via ICTs and facilitating the development of professional networks to provide self-help in the support of continuous learning and professional development of teachers are recommended (Pillay, 2002: 14).
  • The pilot project's approach is sound, but further workshops are needed to help the participants to better understand the underlying concepts of reform (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • Introduction of numerous variables over a short period is too complex for a new concept (Atagi, 2002: 42).
  • The workshop facilitators must make it clear that the materials are not prescriptive, but rather provide the tools for the participants to develop their own teaching plan (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • Sustaining the lessons of the workshops will depend on additional workshops, the role of facilitators, and possibly incentives (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • The facilitators or master teachers must receive additional capacity building to be effective (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • ICT could be used to reach more participants (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • the project confirms the need for important elements of reform such as clear goals, leadership, and professional development (Atagi, 2002: 43).

Key success factors

  • A continuity of efforts, commitments of the participants, and resources, from the beginning of the pilot stage until becoming an accepted component for education, is very important (Atagi, 2002: 43). A true reform requires significant change and a time-consuming trial and error process is needed to find the best approaches to initiate and institutionalize change in the existing system (Atagi, 2002: 43).
  • Success of Thailand's education reform will benefit from broad participation and changes of attitudes by all stakeholders (Atagi, 2002: 45).
  • Support mechanism should provide both initial training and workshops to teachers and on-site support on a continuous basis. Training courses are necessary but it is not effective enough to make a change (Atagi, 2002: 46).
  • For the school-based learning reform, the principals benevolent leadership is the key to success. Principals who decentralize authority to groups of personnel are more likely to succeed than to an individual (Boonmee Naneyod cited by Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 13).
  • An analysis of the factors conductive to the success of the whole-school reform confirms that participation in conceptualization and solving technical problems and those related to personnel administration by the local researchers has accelerated collective efforts within the schools, resulting in speedier and more effective school reform (Nonglak Wiratchat cited by Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 13-14).
  • mutual faith and trust; shared sense of school ownership; common vision; mutual kindness and responsibility for all members (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 21);
  • collaborative learning; teamwork and systematic joint responsibility; access to and effective use of resources; continuity of activities; monitoring, follow-up and quality evaluation (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 21);
  • essential requirements to ensure the success of the whole-school learning reform include love and faith of the community accorded to the schools and personnel; ability for collaborative learning and collective activities organized in co-operation with the community (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 21)
  • Natural and socio-cultural environment, beliefs; services of the public/private sector regarding education, public health, economy etc. as well as the community's administrative mechanism—all contribute to the enhancement of the reform which is considerably facilitated (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 21).

Critique

  • Some criticism of pilot projects is that "they are successful because they are given special supports over a limited period" (Atagi, 2002: 48).
  • It can not be sure that these projects are sustainable (Atagi, 2002: 48).

Summary
The finding of the R&D on the reform methods of transforming the schools to become places where the students can enjoy learning and at the same time develop themselves to become competent persons with moral values have indicated the high feasibility of whole-school learning reform, on condition that collaborative efforts are exerted by all parties concerned both within and outside the schools (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 11).

Outstanding features of the whole-school learning reform are (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 12):

  • emphasis on the whole-school reform, starting with the self-study of all parties concerned;
  • unity in principles and concepts, but diversity in practices;
  • flexibility for necessary adjustments in keeping with the change in contexts;
  • reform is in fact a dynamic process, with positive forces, both within the school and outside to move it forward on a regular and sustained basis;
  • the bottom-up concepts and approach to be used for ensuring the sustainability of the reform.

Common feature have emerged such as enthusiasm and awareness of the necessary for learning reform in the respective schools, the need for continuous academic support in term of training workshops, close consultations and availability of easily accessible learning sources providing both instructional media and content (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 17).

The schools should be accorded complete freedom and flexibility for maximum learning reform through self-management, and through the strategies and models initiated by the schools and regarded as suitable to their potential and their contexts. Without being fettered by the procedural steps and models prescribed by their administrative authorities, all schools are empowered to take a variety of initiatives and can mobilize the efforts required for an effective learning reform (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 23).

Systemic reform requires sustained and continuous efforts until they become embedded in the school daily life. The administrative authorities of the schools and the organizations concerned at all levels should lend support to the whole-school learning reform and provide timely assistance for problem solving (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 23).

It becomes necessary to encourage contribution of a corps of competent teachers to act as agents of change (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 24).

The context of each school being different, formulation of solution to the problems of development guidelines for individual schools naturally differs, depending on the culture and background and previous experience of the schools and the communities (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 24).

Adopting a policy of encouraging the collaborative action research, based on participatory learning, will lead to the whole-school reform for improving the quality of the students (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 24).

The research findings confirm that success will be ensured when the principals and teachers participating in the collaborative action research are clear about the priority of the change required by the schools and the classroom relating to management, organization of teaching-learning activities and quality assurance (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 24-25).

Encouraging teacher education institutions to learn together with the schools. With academic support of the faculty staff of the teacher education institutions, other than moral support and stimulation, the schools will feel confident of the right direction for the learning reform (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 25).

Application of the ICTs to facilitate the learning of students, teachers and principals will widen the scope of their vision and increase their knowledge. Collective learning through exchanged of experiences will be on a wide scale, speedy and on a continuous basis (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 26).

Fry (2002: 9) summarized major recommendations related to teacher development and learning reform as follow:

  • the national pilot study has demonstrated the importance of holistic approaches. Whole school, whole teacher,and whole students approaches should be actively promoted and supported.
  • The moral education as part of the whole student approach is critically important (Sumon, 2002b: 6 cited by Fry, 2002: 9);
  • The value of integrated across-the-curriculum innovations has also been demonstrated;
  • it is important to mobilize wisdom and knowledge from all sources (Sumon, 2002b: 6 cited by Fry, 2002: 9);
  • A holistic approach with respect to policy, planning, and implementation;
  • distributed learning;
  • it is important to align the new standards and quality assurance evaluation with the new curricular and learning approaches;
  • the critical university entrance examination must also be reviewed to ensure that it is consistent with the learning reforms; (there is a need of learning assessment.)
  • the large number of teachers already in service should be a priority group;
  • solid understanding of the concepts, principles, and processes involved in the new approaches of teaching and learning (Pillay, 2002: 49 cited by Fry, 2002: 10);
  • The national pilot study has demonstrated the value classroom-based collaborative action research to improve learning outcomes (Fry, 2002: 10).
  • there is a need to develop local learning resource centers with diverse resource learning materials relevant to the new student-centered learning process (Pillay, 2002: 52-53; Atagi, 2002: 63-67 all cited by Fry, 2002: 10);
  • teachers should be prepare to be able to achieve an important balance among international, national, and local approaches (Fry, 2002: 10);
  • Incentives must be developed to mobilize local academic resources in support of educational reform (Fry, 2002: 10);
  • Local schools should be provided opportunities to engage with community (Fry, 2002: 10);
  • It should be a system to rewards teachers who are successful in improving students outcomes through performance-based systems (Fry, 2002: 10);
  • the evaluation system should be characterized by "kalayanamitr" (an amicable approach emphasizing the three Cs: consultation and collaboration for creativity);
  • it is important to provide rewards to effective reformers such as national teachers, master teachers, lead teachers, thai local wisdoms teachers, and master administrators (Fry, 2002: 11);
  • Thai government should experiment with the concept introduced by TERO and Dr Montri of issuing training coupons or vouchers as a way to foster continued teacher learning. This approach represents a highly innovative and individualized approach to continued teacher learning, crucial to the success of the education reform (Fry, 2002: 11).
  • Thai goverment must leapfrog but focus only appropriate high technology to use ICT as a toolm not an end (Fry, 2002: 11)
  • It is critically important to both sustain and expand networks of targeted schools, academic associations, and other groups in support of educational reform (Fry, 2002: 12). Such a movement can play an important role in building local level community support for education and learning reform (Lekha, 2002: 23-24 cited by Fry, 2002: 12). However, it was reported that there has been inadequate administrative and community support for such efforts (Sumon, 2002c: 42 cited by Fry, 2002: 12).
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