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Phuket Opinion: The long, long learning curve

PHUKET: Obtaining an education visa in order to live in Thailand for longer than a tourist visa allows is certainly nothing new, it’s been going on for a long time. The results of the recent clampdown, which began in Bangkok last week and saw 74 international schools which provide language courses searched and a number of “criminals” apprehended, came as little surprise.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 6 May 2018, 09:00AM

One of the language school in Phuket inspected by Tourist Police this week. Photo: Phuket Tourist Police

One of the language school in Phuket inspected by Tourist Police this week. Photo: Phuket Tourist Police

A similar clampdown began in Phuket on Thursday (May 3), and Capt Ekkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police confrmed that any irregularities in student enrolment and attendance will be investigated. Surprisingly, it was reported that police were zeroing in on foreign criminals who obtain education visas so they can live in Thailand and commit crime.

Do police honestly believe the only reason that people enrol at language schools to obtain education visas is to commit crime? This is far from the truth.

People enrol at language schools to obtain education for a number of reasons: First, they may just want to extend their stay in Thailand and actually spend some time learning the language while they’re here; and second, some foreigners who do not have legitimate businesses set up in Thailand but are happy to run illegal businesses via Facebook pages etc. all whilst staying on an education visa.

Some people who have these education visas keep it to themselves, although there are others who are happy to tell all and sundry. One such person, who The Phuket News shall not name, was staying on an education visa whilst running a now defunct pub/guesthouse slap bang in the middle of Phuket Town. Had he attended the courses for which he enrolled? Very unlikely!

Another case was that last year of the Russian “Crypto Boss” Maxim Lastovka, 27, and his partner who were allegedly robbed of various valuables during an alleged burglary at their condo in Nai Harn.

Chalong Police confirmed that both Russians were on education visas. Surely a quick “khun pôot paa-săa thai bpen măi?” from any officer involved with the two Russians would have revealed how much Thai they had learned.

If police are serious then they should have an absolute field day in Phuket and we await reports of language schools, visa service providers and education officials being prosecuted, and foreigners being deported and blacklisted for their illegal use of these easily obtained visas.



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Sir Burr | 07 May 2018 - 14:36:01

What nonsense! There are four main regional dialects. Northern, southern, central (Bangkok) and north-eastern.
All Thai schools everywhere only teach Central. Everyone in Thailand can understand Central.........they learnt it at school, like [some people] should.

Kurt | 06 May 2018 - 14:58:34

It will not happen dat school directors, education officials, Immigration officers will be prosecuted for issuing 'fake' visas, 'student visa' thing is decennia long settled big business
Why not a 3 month Immigration report with verbal proof of thai language progress + a letter of school director that student attended all lessons + proof of money transfers from abroad for living?

CaptainJack69 | 06 May 2018 - 14:30:51

I speak Thai fluently and I never needed to go to any school to learn, nor did I need any special visa. While I was here running a business, bringing skills into the kingdom, employing local people and paying taxes I didn't find it difficult to study the local language (being as it's spoken by all the locals and everything).

Student visa's aren't supposed to be for learning Thai...

Foot | 06 May 2018 - 11:26:44

Part of the problem in learning Thai, is that the Thai schools teach Bangkok/Southern Thai, but, many of those the student actually talks to speak Issan Thai.  And, they aren't the same.
So, depending on the group of Thais you interact with, the school may not do much good.

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