Education minister says free speech should be allowed at schools

Education minister says free speech should be allowed at schools
Education minister says free speech should be allowed at schoolsKhaosod

“The students are concerned about their future which is a good thing.”

Hundreds of self-described “Bad Students” gathered in front of the Ministry of Education in Bangkok to voice their concerns for free speech after they were reprimanded earlier this week for displaying a highly-charged political symbol during a morning flag ceremony at their school. Many raised their hands in a 3 finger salute during the flag ceremony and wore white ribbons to symbolise pro-democracy.

The roughly 500 student activists crowded at the government building also demand the public school system abolish strict haircut rules and the ubiquitous morning flag ceremonies.

An 18 year old student and leader of the “Bad Students” says the education minister should resign if he can't meet their demands. For his part the Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan sat in the crowd to listen to what the students had to say. Some students blew whistles at him, mocking his involvement as a leader in the People's Democratic Reform Committee, an anti-democracy group known for “whistle mob” protests in 2014.

Teepsuwan tied a white ribbon to his wrist to show his support for the students. He agreed that the students should be allowed to express their political beliefs at school, “but protests should be done lawfully”. He says he plans for schools across the country to hold student councils for open discussions on political beliefs.

Some students reported harassment from teachers and administrators at Monday's flag ceremony protests. Police were called in by some administrators and officers confiscated the white ribbons. Student activists say the ministry has done nothing to condemn the harassment they faced, but Teepsuwan says in the future, there should be no problems as long as the students are protesting peacefully.

“I've told them that many problems are being addressed by the ministry such as the haircut regulations; however for issues like education inequality, it will take time.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News

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