The AMBIVALENCE IN RECOGNIZING RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY: ANALYSIS OF LAWS, POLICIES, AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THAILAND
ANALYSIS OF THAI LAWS, POLICIES, AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THAILAND
Keywords:religious curriculum, religious education in Thailand, religious minority, religious policy
This paper aimed to examine Thai religious education (RE) discourse by analyzing the constitution, policies, and national curriculum concerning recognizing religious diversity. It further investigated how public schools in the northern education service areas implemented RE. This qualitative study employed document analysis to answer the first part. Then it conducted empirical research at four religiously diverse schools chosen by purposive random sampling. The data was gathered via documents, observations, and semi-structured in-depth individual interviews with 4 school directors and 12 RE teachers. The study found a double standard in constitutions, policies, the national RE curriculum, and the implementation of RE in northern Thai public schools. While Thailand's laws and policies formally recognize religious diversity and equality, they also favor one particular religion over others. This ambivalence about guaranteeing religious equality is also found in the national RE curriculum, where it theoretically stands for every faith but practically not. The findings of empirical research revealed that schools, in fact, implement Buddhist-oriented RE for all faiths, regardless of the students’ religious affiliations. There is a pressing need for the recognition and promotion of equitable RE for all faiths in Thailand.
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