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Weapons of Mass Assimilation: A Critical Analysis of the use of Education in Thailand

Author(s): Otto F. von Feigenblatt | Vannapond Suttichujit | Md Shukri Shuib | Mohamad Faisol Keling | Mohd Na’eim Ajis

Journal: Journal of Asia Pacific Studies
ISSN 1948-0091

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 292;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Education | Liberation Pedagogy | Ethnic Domination | Thailand

The present paper aims to problematize education in Thailand.Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s model of ethnic domination is used as thetheoretical framework to reveal the important and often ignored role of education in perpetuating socioeconomic and political elite dominance in Thailand. Ethnic domination is complemented with Paulo Freire’s liberation pedagogy. The paper shows how ethnic and economicdomination of a small Central Thai elite over the vast majority of the population is achieved through a concerted propaganda effort integrating primary and secondary education with tight control over religious practices and strict censorship of the media. Case studies are provided of the role of Ministry of Education in the central government’s attempt to forcefully integrate the Muslim Malay population in the Southern Provinces and the Lao (Isan) region in the North. Finally, the contested role of private education is discussed in relation to central control over education. The paper concludes that civic and religious education in primary and secondary schools is part of a broader strategy for theperpetuation of a narrow ethnocracy, and that the recent growth of the private education. An education model based on Freire’s concept of “conscientization” is proposed as guiding principle to empower thepeoples of Siam.
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