Is anybody listening? – Can somebody do something?

-A Flying Sporran Panic Attack!-

I guess there must be more than a few
people like me in Thailand who have kids here but not the cash to pay the
massive fees demanded by international schools – some even more expensive than
This is one subject  which
can bring me close to tears or if not that send my stomach into knots. My daughter Annie, 5, goes to bi-lingual school in
Bangkok and speaks to me in English.
Matthew, 3, speaks to me in Thinglish, and Archie, 8 months
speaks Swahili I believe.  By the time
they are all at school I will be speaking gibberish from multiple panic attacks.
The Thai education system frightens me. Occasionally I think
I’ll bag all the kids and take them on a plane to rural Berkshire or my first
love the Western Highlands of Scotland.
But that is out of the questions. I am a journalist. All my
contacts are in Asia now. I would be put out to graze I guess. Become a shepherd or ghillie?
Politicians keep making promises to improve the schools. They break all the promises except the ones they made to themselves.
I cannot see this one pupil one tablet computer plan by the
current government achieving anything in its application – apart maybe from
some very large commissions. I would like to see it work but I gave been told too much about the machiavellian schemers involved.
It would appear on all levels that Thailand wants to keep
the status quo. Keep the poor people poor and ignorant, and the rich people rich. Short term
Nobody seems to have the foresight to see Burma and
Vietnam racing ahead as did Malaysia and Singapore years ago.
The reds had a hollow victory in Pheu Thai.  (Not that the democrats have done any better)
The patronage system continues. Nobody listens.
Actually blackboard and exercise books should have been
thrown away a long time ago. Though I 
still want people to be able to write with pen and paper.
One school in the UK has almost done this. At Bolton’s Essa
School, whose kids come from what is described as a ‘disadvantaged intake’
every teacher has an I-Pad.  Every pupil
has an I-pod Touch.

This from the Independent:

“The gadget revolution is all down to Abdul Chohan, a
chemistry teacher at the school’s former failing predecessor. He is now one of
four directors – in old parlance, deputy heads – at Essa.

“Mr Chohan, who had experience with Glaxo pharmaceuticals as
a researcher before turning to teaching, is convinced that his pupils will need
21st-century skills when they set out to find work. He also believes that too
much attention is focused on exams rather than developing life skills.

“He is particularly scathing about the way some schools have
introduced new technology. “Thousands of pounds has been spent in schools
and used really unwisely,” he says.

“Teachers are really good at doing the wrong things
well. For instance, they used to have a blackboard and now they have an
interactive whiteboard – but they still stand in front of the class pointing to
it as if it was their old blackboard.”

 The fact that pupils can be continually in touch with their teachers is a crucial advantage of the new system, Mr Chohan points out. “If there’s something they want to know, why should they have to wait until the school gates open at 9am in the morning?” he says.

RAF 220 Squadron Hudson

But anyway Essa School seems to
have got it right in the end.     


Last year every pupil achieved five A* to C grade passes at
GCSE, compared with 40 per cent previously.

Why cannot something like that happen here? 
 I don’t really know how Annie is getting on at
school. They do not give reports until she is seven at least that’s what my ex-tells me. If Annie has any problems I do not hear them. So maybe she does not.
If she had an Ipod Touch I could even talk to the teachers.
Can somebody in Thailand help?  How do I protest without being labelled a
trouble maker.
All this has been racing through my mind after a panic
attack today when I caught Matthew on the top shelf of my office grabbing for a
model of  Flying Fortress ‘J’ of RAF 220
Squadron which is the plane his granddad flew in the Second World War.
I grabbed Matthew and some pictures came down with the
His granddad was not really a hunter killer as the Scottish Daily Express front paged at the time when he sank U-707 in mid Atlantic flying out of the
He rarely talked about it altough as a kid I wanted to hear about his wartime adventures. He said he dropped life rafts and
provisions, but the records show there were no survivors.

He said he could hear their screams.

But of course he could
not through the four engines of a B -17. But I knew what he meant. I think he
always had nightmares about this.

Dropping bombs on port cities, when Bomber Command was leafleting,  was less personal, although 220 Squadron was wiped out twice in the war’s early stages..

I have so many stories to tell my kids but seemingly so little time to
tell them. I need to get them to learn about irony and that there can be level playing fields and how we used to fight dictators but now befriend them for commercial purposes. But they’re still on phonetics so I’m just teaching Annie how to, or how not to, make cupcakes – But its fun. 
Fortress ‘J’ in the Azores

Essa Academy


About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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