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Title: Study of religious education in Northern Thai public schools
Other Titles: การศึกษาศาสนศึกษาในโรงเรียนรัฐบาลไทยเขตภาคเหนือ
Authors: Fasiri Ahn
Authors: Chetthapoom Wannapaisan
Parud Boonsritan
Nannaphat Saenghong
Fasiri Ahn
Issue Date: Oct-2020
Publisher: Chiang Mai : Graduate School, Chiang Mai University
Abstract: Thailand places great importance on religion and makes confessional/devotional school religious education (RE) compulsory. While there is increasing awareness of multicultural education in Thai academia, studies concerning religious plurality are still lacking. This study discusses issues related to religion's functional and conflict theories in the context of modern Thailand. Further, it illuminates Thailand's religious climate based on the right to freedom of religion of the United Nations, and RE's status in other countries. This study addresses the following research objectives: 1. Examine the rhetorical features of Thai laws and policies regarding religious education, and how it is reflected in public education 2. Investigate how RE policies are implemented and practiced in Northern Thai public schools, and how it affects the attitudes and RE perceptions of school directors, RE teachers, and students 3. Examine the opinions of educators based on the research findings, and make suggestions for the furtherance of religious education. Four public schools were randomly and purposefully selected from each of four northern Thai educational service areas involving four school directors, twelve RE teachers, four groups of Buddhist students, and four groups of religious minority students for the field study. Data recording forms and observations, questionnaires, religious literacy tests, and semi-structured interviews were applied to collect data. Content analysis, mean, percentage, and dependent t-test were conducted to answer the first and the second research objective. A focus group discussion was arranged with the analyzed data to gather their opinions and suggestions regarding the research findings. After that, connoisseurship was organized to understand the views and recommendations from the various social aspects which accomplish the third research objective. The findings of this study suggest 1. Thai constitutions, policies, and the national RE curriculum demonstrate discrepancies. Although the constitution guarantees people's equal religious rights, it violates the principle itself by favoring and supporting a particular religion over others. Thailand's RE policies and RE curriculum require devotional RE but the Buddhist-Oriented RE is the only choice. 2. Political prioritization of Buddhism in the Thai constitution and public RE policies resulted in Buddhist hegemony and superiority in public schools' religious education that marginalizes religious minority students. Public schools implement devotional Buddhist oriented RE curriculum for all, regardless of the learners' faith, which contradicts the Basic Core Curriculum's pledge to educate "according to one's own religion." The school teachers viewed this type of hegemonic RE as "good" for every student, but the religious minority students disagreed. 3. Educators who participated in the discussions agreed that there is no space allowed for religious minority students in the present RE. Although participants approved the need for equitable RE suitable for each student, they also pointed out that we should also be aware of the dangers posed when each religion insists on their religious beliefs in public space. Instead of pressing on faith-based RE in public schools, many suggested that the RE curriculum should promote an education that recognizes religious diversity, promotes living peacefully together, and one where all religions are jointly responsible for social problems.
Appears in Collections:EDU: Theses

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