The Social Movement of Spiritually Engaged Alternative Education in Thailand Against the Background of Reform and Globalization
The establishment of alternative education, private foundations, and networks linked to socio-political and spiritual advocacies distinguishes the Thai social movement in this research. This research is a qualitative study that has made use of historical accounts to associate with data gathered from extensive interviews and case studies in order to inquire as to whether alternative education represents an historical spiritual tradition of opposition to reform hegemony, and whether it has had an impact on state reform efforts. Also investigated was whether there are some historical patterns associated with the manner in which the state of Thailand has dealt with the forces of globalization and whether the collective action by informal movements of Thai people also has the same predictable pattern of response to the global. Analysis and comparison of these issues contribute in determining the values associated with people in the alternative education movement and the motives and intentions associated with state-initiated reforms. A further related aspect explored is the degree of "Thai-ness" and the embedded historical pattern of both the alternative education movement and education reform. These inquiries were answered through the collection of data from three different trips to Thailand over a four-year period, the last trip a one-year stay that permitted case studies and observations at three alternative schools, and the interview of a host of participants from home-school parents and students to Ministry of Education staff and officers. In examining the data, a clearer notion of what lies underneath the idea of Buddhist education and spirituality became clearer and how educational reform based on Western ideals and notions has not taken into account Buddhism and culture as education. This illumination brings new insight and also raises a new question as to the difference between social movements in a Buddhist nation such as Thailand and social movements in the West.