Criticism Arises as TikTok Users Teach in Thai Schools Without Formal Qualifications

Two foreign educators are facing criticism for openly discussing their employment at a public Thai school on TikTok despite lacking formal qualifications.

Their TikTok posts, where they enthusiastically celebrated their positions "without qualifications," sparked a wave of comments questioning their suitability as educators, with some calling for an official investigation.

criticism arises as tiktok users teach in thai schools without formal qualificationsPhoto via Twitter (@@lalalunable)

One commenter pointed out, "Being able to speak English doesn't mean you can teach English," while another simply stated, "And that's how you lose your job."

The video, originally posted under the account name Lily Kelsey, has since been removed. In the video, the women appeared to mockingly dance, accompanied by two captions that read, "You guys can't just travel forever, when are you gonna go uni or get a job?" and "Us in a random town in Thailand teaching kids with no qualifications." The exact date of the video's posting remains unclear.

The video gained widespread attention after being reposted on Twitter by user Lalalunable. The tweet was shared over 35,000 times, drawing further attention to the issue.

Questions arose regarding whether the women possessed General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSE), a requirement to teach in public schools in Thailand. Kelsey responded defiantly to these queries, asserting, "I'm making a difference to children's lives, so yeah, I will continue."

In a subsequent post, the women were seen posing with smiling police officers, with one of them sneering at the camera while the other made a hand gesture. Attempts to contact their deactivated account proved futile.

It was revealed that the women had received compensation of GBP 900 (approximately US$1,100) for their flights, along with food and accommodation. Several comments highlighted the unfairness of qualified Thai teachers earning less than foreign instructors and blamed schools for not conducting thorough background checks.

One Twitter user remarked, "Thai people are so enthusiastic about learning English with native speakers, and most of the foreign language teachers who come to teach in Thailand didn't actually finish their own studies (not all of them). They just use English because they were born with it, and then they live in Thailand, obsessed with accents."

Adam Pavlakovich, who oversees a network of foreign instructors, shifted the blame onto employment agencies, stating, "This isn't the school's fault, it's the agencies' fault. A lot of the agencies in Thailand not only deduct salaries from the teachers unfairly but also employ people who don't have degrees or qualifications and falsify documents for them."

In Thailand, teaching positions typically require English teachers to hold a Bachelor's degree, while non-degree holders can become eligible by obtaining a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate and gaining classroom experience through volunteering.

The issue of schools hiring foreigners without appropriate qualifications is not a new one in Thailand. The country is ranked 97th overall and second to last among its ASEAN neighbors in a global assessment of English proficiency across 111 different countries and regions.

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