Saturday, 9th March 2013
THAI KIDS INTO ADOLF HITLER – I remember my first trip to Bangkok some 10 years ago and like most tourists I decided it was time for a bit of shopping. What I wasn’t as a European, expecting to find was T Shirts, Posters and other paraphernalia depicting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.
I have to admit I was in shock as I stood there gob smacked at how anyone could display such merchandize.
It wasn’t long before a salesperson approached and asked if I would like to buy. Still in a shock I pointed at the T Shirt, with the Swastika and Adolf Hitler, and asked her, do know who that is and what it represents? Her exact word; “Oh he funny, good man, l like much. Good for you mister only 199 Baht.” I simply could not believe what I was hearing and walked away in total disbelief.
Roll on 10 years and the same merchandise can be found readily in Bangkok and indeed any other area in Thailand that attracts tourists.
It was less than a couple of years ago that a University, in Chang Mai, was bought under the spotlight when it held its annual student parade. Out rolled the students all happy and proud, in front of a large delegation of visiting foreign dignitaries, including two from Germany, who where then fronted with sight they simply could not believe. Each of the students proudly wore a Nazi Uniform with the leader sporting an Adolf Hitler mustache. It was not surprising when the German delegates got up and left.
Due to this very incident talks were held with Thai and German diplomats which also included the heads of the University in question. The teachers and administrators openly admitted they had no idea it would cause such offense and thought the parade would indeed delight their German guests.
There’s an old saying; “Ignorance is bliss and the ignorant are extremely blissful.” This saying fits so well with the Thais and most of them are completely ignorant as to what goes on beyond its border – and often what goes on within.
The level of education in Thailand is somewhere below appalling, in fact I would venture to say that the average child enters the education system ignorant and comes out the other end with no notable improvement.
You cannot blame the kids – if they are unaware, through the lack of proper education, that something on this scale is highly offensive, then the fault lies squarely with the government and the education system manages.
The Asean Economic Community (AEC) is just around the corner, which is a watered down version of the European Union. Thailand was due to join in 2015 but has now announced that it will not join until 2016 in order to try and bring its level of English Language education up to a standard that would allow its youth to compete within the open market. It is believe that as 2016 rolls around it is likely the Thai Government will again push entry into the AEC back further as it is clearly failing to education its children to a standard anywhere close to those of the other AEC states.
Thailand, not 2 years ago, announced that it would expel the use of the ‘No Fail Policy’ whereby any student attending university, for any course, would receive a degree providing they attended classes and regardless how they scored on the end of term papers.
This has led Thailand to be ridiculed by countries such as Singapore where the government place a very high emphasis on education. As of today the ‘No Fail Policy’ is firmly still in place as the government fears a revolt from the people if all of their children started failing university courses, most of which can cost over 3 years salary.
Things never really appear to improve in Thailand. Children are fed, from day one, the criteria of nationalistic propaganda that makes them sincerely believe they are the greatest nation on earth without any realization of what goes on in the rest of the world.
Last year, on one of my trips I decided to undertake a clandestine test and so I compiled ten photographs of very famous people, including the Queen of England, the President of the United State, Albert Einstein and seven others. I also had a world map, but one without any writing on it.
I asked 10 students to name the ten famous people and to point on the map where the USA was situation. Of the 10 students only 2 managed to identify 3 of the people, while the remainder could only identify 1 or less. As for the USA, only one student correctly pointed its location on the map and even she openly admitted it was a guess.
As you can see, education starts with a caring government and this is not something the Thai people have the luxury of. If you are visiting Thailand anytime soon or in the future and you do come across images of the Führer try to understand that this is not the fault of the people, it’s the failing of the government to education the people.