The Education Minister has told Schools to allow students to express their political views on campuses in what is seen as an attempt to defuse growing frustration and demands for political change.
The decision, announced by Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, follows media reports about students from various schools flashing the three-finger salute during their morning assembly in front of flagpoles and using white ribbons as a symbol against dictatorship.
Initial responses from school administrators to their dissent had been mixed, with some teachers reportedly reprimanding students and warning them against taking their protests onto school premises.
Mr Teepsuwan said yesterday (18th August) that a child’s rights to freedom of speech and expression should not stop at school gates and that the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) would, therefore, send a letter to schools under its jurisdiction to ensure they fully understand what these freedoms are.
He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had acknowledged these rights and asked the Education Ministry and the Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Ministry to work out solutions to prevent the situation from escalating and worsening the country’s economic problems.
Mr Teepsuwan said school administrators and teachers would be encouraged to create space for students to voice their opposition and opinions on various issues. It is hoped the planned dialogue will ease their frustration and anger.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after yesterday’s cabinet meeting that many students had told him they would be bullied and shunned by their peers if they did not take part in demonstrations.
“That is dangerous. Some people don’t want to participate. I would like everyone to be rational,” he said when asked about the current trend for students around the country to show the three-fingered salute during morning assembly to represent their resistance to his government.
General Chan-o-cha said it was not a major concern for him as some students had only taken part innocently.