Education Minister said uniforms necessary for a disciplined society; blames ‘forces’ behind students

The people behind the pro-reform movement are “cruel” for using students to confront schools, Nataphol Teepsuwan, Education Minister, said on Tuesday.

His comments came after high school students across Thailand, on Tuesday in a show of civil disobedience, protested against Thai school uniform regulations by going to school dressed however they want.

“I am not blaming the students but the people who thought of this are cruel for using students to confront schools and when there is a rally, these people behind the movement are nowhere to be found,” Nataphol told reporters.

“The people who will be affected by these actions are going to be the students and where are these co-leaders? I hope we can negotiate with the students because their main duty is to study,” he added.  

The Education Minister was doubling down on the unfounded claims that have been made earlier by other pro-government parliamentarians that a shadow group of local politicians along with foreign institutions and governments is working together to bring down the Prayut government and the royal institution.

The Bad Student group has been calling for the reformation of the educational system and Nataphol’s resignation. The Education Minister, who had been in power for less than two years, refused to resign multiple times, citing the time needed to reform.

This led the Bad Student to join the student-led pro-democracy movement, Ratsadon, in their calls for the government to resign.

Nataphol said the ministry’s rules stated that students must wear uniforms to school and their hairstyle and length must be regulated according to the rules which have yet to be changed.        

“Schools must speak to their students that they are living in a society that needs discipline and if the rules have not been changed, they must follow all of them and if they do not, there will be consequences,” he said.

“As for the punishments, each school will have different measures and their severity is based on the level of the expression,” he added while noted that expulsion should not be part of the punishments.

He also said that one of the concerns of wearing casual attire to school is that it could lead to inappropriate attire such as nudity in school and that more than half of the students still want to wear uniforms.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Tuesday that uniforms allow students to be easily spotted in case of emergency and they cost less than casual attire.

Nataphol said there is a possibility that the ministry will allow for one day out of a month of not wearing casual attire to school.

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