The Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) is launching an intensive English program requiring all students to study English for five hours a week.

OBEC Chairman Ekkachai Kisukphan said a commission meeting tomorrow will consider the inclusion of intensive English learning in the curricula of the Ministry of Education.  The mini-English program will be replaced by the intensive English program.

Schools must provide more than five English language classes per week with the objective to increase learners’ English proficiency to level B2, or upper-intermediate.  At this level, students can communicate in English proficiently in academic and professional environments.

The commission will announce its new English language teaching guidelines to be used by basic education providers such as the commission itself and the Office of the Private Education Commission, Mr Ekkachai said.

The meeting will also consider plans to merge small schools and allow elementary schools to admit more students, particularly schools that are located near secondary schools, according to Mr Ekkachai.

Another issue on the meeting’s agenda is quality assessment of schools by the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (Onesqa).

Mr Ekkachai said so far there had been no studies on Ordinary National Education Test (Onet) scores of students in schools that received very good or outstanding ratings.

“I would like to ask the Bureau of Educational Testing to conduct studies to see if the Onesqa’s assessment of schools and student’s Onet scores significantly correlate,” Mr Ekkachai said. “If the two organisations do not work together, how can they jointly manage schools’ quality?” Last month the ministry announced plans to recruit 10,000 native English-speaking teachers to improve Thai students’ proficiency in the language.  Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said the cabinet has