The Politics of Thai Education: Reform and Decentralization – a seminar by Dr Michelle Tan (Wed, 3 September 2008)

Speaker: Dr Michelle Tan (Postdoctoral Fellow, Southeast Asian Studies Programmen, NUS)
Date: Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
The political and social reform project in Thailand of the 1990s included an attempt to reform the basic education system, which in turn integrated decentralization as one of the major reform components. This presentation explores the politics of policy implementation through the lens of decentralization and is also thus a case study of contemporary Thai bureaucracy. In both the Ministry of Education’s ‘internal’ deconcentration and ‘external’ decentralization to local bodies, iron triangles involving critical national-local vote bases — permanent bureaucrats, elected politicians, and ‘grassroots’ vote canvassers — influenced both policy design and implementation. This study thus explores centre-local relations in terms of their legal or administrative, fiscal, and factional political dimensions.

About the speaker
Michelle Tan recently completed her Ph.D. in politics at the University of Leeds in the U.K. Prior to her Ph.D. studies, she was a lecturer at Thammasat University in Thailand and has worked for a variety of non-governmental organizations in the U.S. and Thailand. She completed her undergraduate degree in government and philosophy and post-graduate degree in public policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Born in India, she grew up on the U.S.-Mexican border.