chapter  16
Language education policy in Thailand
WithJohn Draper
Pages 14

The language and culture map of modern Thailand thus reflects a long history of peoples and their languages in intimate contact, borrowing and blending DNA along with vibrant cultures. Local languages preserve many local knowledge systems that if lost, means a lessening of the wisdom of minority peoples bound up in their medical, agricultural, and aspirational practices and beliefs. Language and language policy since the 1932 revolution have been determined by the military. Multiple problems with Thai public education in peripheral areas include the curriculum being in Spoken Tamil, linguistically a foreign language to non-Tai minorities. In 1928, the 1921 education system was revised, with English, French, and German all becoming electives and up to two foreign languages becoming mandatory at upper secondary to introduce modernity to Thailand. Minority language teaching is now tolerated, especially following the 1997 constitution, which recognised the rights of traditional communities to restore and conserve their customs, knowledge, arts, and ‘good culture.