Analysis of Thai Border School Policy and Its Implementation: A Case Study of Buffer School between Thailand and Cambodia

Analysis of Thai Border School Policy and Its Implementation: A Case Study of Buffer School between Thailand and Cambodia
Ampa Kaewkumkong


The nature of Thai border schools has been gradually evolving over the last 60 years. The first initiative to improve the quality of education at these schools was the official establishment of the “Border Patrol Police (BPP) School”, later followed by the emerging operation launched in 2010 under a scheme called “Buffer Schools”. Buffer School policy is being implemented in response to ASEAN Community 2015 goal of establishing close cooperation among neighbor countries. A literature review has revealed a shortage of studies concerning the efficacy of the present policy and those conducted have only vaguely concentrated on the implementation process. This research therefore examines the implementation of Buffer School policy focusing on the Thailand-Cambodia border, which has experienced several border disputes over the years. The current study has two explicit objectives: 1) to investigate the policy implementation process and challenges faced at the pilot schools and 2) to analyze the factors that bear on successful policy implementation.
The theoretical foundation of the study is based on contemporary education policy implementation in practice and research. It comprises the three dimensions of policy, people, and places as developed by Honig (2006), together with the concept of border school development. This research employs a descriptive mixed-method strategy. Data was gathered from a number of policy-relevant stakeholders categorized into three groups: students, teachers, and others. Collecting data through 333 questionnaires, 31 interviews and fieldwork were carried out at six pilot schools. The survey data was analyzed using both descriptive statistics and inferential statistics with Pearson’s correlation analysis. The qualitative data was analyzed by descriptive technique and multiple sources of evidence were triangulated with each other.
The research findings revealed that the process of Buffer School policy implementation was arranged to 1) create and set learning environments geared towards the ASEAN Community in the beginning phase; 2) encourage the building of networks and cooperation with national and international agencies, especially schools across the border; and 3) promote a warm relationship with Cambodian schools and communities. However, policy implementation has thus far been ineffective in running projects and activities. Buffer Schools have faced challenges in policy design, with the implementers, and with the operating units at both state and local levels. Based on the survey conducted, an overall mean score indicated that problems concerning policy design were viewed as being at the highest level in the perception of participants. The qualitative data indicated that Buffer Schools faced serious difficulties in operations. For factors determining policy success, respondents expressed perceptions that all three factors of policy design, people, and places have influenced Buffer School implementation at a high level. All three factors overall yielded significant positive correlations at the .01 level in regards to policy progress and success. All in all, the emerging Thai border school policy implementation in the context of ASEAN Community has yielded both positive and negative outcomes that should be further explored.


Ampa Kaewkumkong

PhD defended at

Institute of International and Comparative Education, School of Education, South China Normal University


Social Sciences


Southeast Asia