Thailand’s Challenge of Systemic Education Reform: Where Are the Leaders with the “Right Stuff”?

  • Philip HallingerEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 42)


The past two decades have witnessed active education reform throughout much of the world. This has also been the case in Thailand where a succession of governments joined the international race to climb the ladder of economic competitiveness by enhancing the quality of education. This resulted in a continuous stream of education reforms aimed at changing normative methods of school management, teaching, and learning. Yet, a decade of research on reform implementation in Thailand suggests that its ambitious new vision of education has yet to be realized (Fry and Bi 2013; Hallinger and Lee 2011, 2013, 2014; Maxcy et al. 2010; Mounier and Phasina 2009; Nonglak et al. 2004; Waraiporn 2007).

Currently Thailand faces the challenge of finding leaders with “the right stuff” to transform fundamentally its system of education. Thus, this chapter addresses two basic questions:
  1. 1.

    Does the current cadre of Thailand’s principals have “the right stuff” to meet the challenges of implementing national education reform?

  2. 2.

    If not, what changes are needed in order to ensure that there is sufficient density of school-level leaders with the right stuff to support educational change and reform?

To answer these questions, empirical findings are synthesized from studies of leadership and education reform in Thailand. These research findings are then interpreted within the context of current system structures, norms, and processes. The chapter is organized into four main sections: education reform in Thailand from 1990 to 2015, the changing leadership roles of school principals in Thailand, systemic challenges of developing principals with “the right stuff,” and conclusion and implications.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research on Sustainable Leadership, College of ManagementMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand

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