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Filipino, Thai Teachers Charged as Nonthaburi School-Abuse Scandal Widens

Corporal punishment is illegal in Thai schools, but rash of recent incidents shows it remains prevalent

Nonthaburi Abuse Teacher School Kindergarten Thailand

Even as police in Nonthaburi charged a Filipino teacher accused of striking a kindergarten student Tuesday, new video emerged of a Thai instructor at the same school also abusing youngsters, illustrating Thailand’s continued struggle to control corporal punishment.

Kindergarten teacher Onuma Ploadprong was charged Tuesday with physical assault and violating the Child Protection Act with more charges related to the Teacher’s Act expected.

She was recorded in several leaked videos from surveillance cameras as Nonthaburi’s Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School dragging a tot to the floor by the collar, banging kids’ heads on their desks, and twisting their ears until they screamed.

The charges came the same time as a Philippine national Marvin Liwanag was charged by Immigration Police for working without a work permit and overstaying his tourist visa following the leak of a viral video that appeared to show the instructor pulling the arm of the students.

Immigration officials, however, dismissed the accusations of abuse with Liwanag explaining he was trying to take the student to get cleaned up as he had snot all over his face.

Liwanag could also face charges for turning a blind eye to the abusive behavior by Onuma with whom he shared a classroom. The Filipino said he didn’t feel he could say anything as he was a new teacher and Onuma was senior to him.

Clearly troubled by multiple reports and videos of abuse by instructors at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek, the Office of the Private Education Commission yesterday established an investigative panel to examine all 42 Sarasas private schools.

Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek has already been charged by police with hiring a foreign national without a work permit and additional charges are sure to follow.

Corporal punishment is illegal in Thai schools, but that has not stopped teachers from continuing to physically punish their pupils. It has become one of the issues fueling student protests against the government, saying dictatorial policies like forced haircuts and regimented uniforms, along with illegal corporal punishment and hazing, require that the entire education system be overhauled.