Education In Thailand

Imagine not having enough money to be able to attend school for more than four years. In Thailand, the quality of education is at a shockingly low rate, where students are dropping far below national averages. This is especially a problem in rural areas, where students are given fewer opportunities, and some are only able to attend school for as little as four years. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), is an international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. In 2015, Thailand was ranked as 55th in maths, 56th in science, and 59th in reading, out of a total of 73 countries. Supachai Panitchpakdi, who is a former World Trade organisation director-general, said that Thailand’s education system was a failure, it is not able to manage large budgets or compete internationally, and people must look into the reasons as to why Thailand’s education system is failing and why they can’t compete at an international level.

Why are so many students scoring far under international averages in their classes? Especially in rural areas where the schools are underfunded and understaffed, many students say that their classes focus much more on memorization, rather than actually learning and understanding the information provided. Rural Areas Although public school is offered in Thailand and is compulsory for 9 years, many students have to drop out at young ages as their families can’t afford to continue sending them to school. Even though families don’t have to pay for tuition when their children attend public school, they must pay for other things such as uniforms and books, and when some families are making as little as $10 a day, these are things they cannot afford. Many students in rural areas attend school for only 4-6 years, and after dropping out they must work to help support their families. Most children who drop out of school go on to receive low paying jobs, such as farming, which then continues the poverty cycle as in the future they will not be able to send any of their children to school.

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In Thailand, the government is aware of the flaws that are present in their education system, though few actions have been taken to solve these problems. The government spends about 4% of their GDP on education, though lots of this money is spent on schools in big cities, instead of in rural areas. For all students to have equal opportunities around Thailand, the government needs to be more aware of where the money is needed most, and what they can do to disperse this money evenly around the country. Also, many schools require students to buy uniforms, though this costs money and many families can’t afford it, some even show up to school without uniforms. Thai governments should consider removing uniforms from their schools, especially in rural areas where many students can’t afford to purchase them.

As mentioned earlier, when children don’t finish school they go on to get low-income jobs, and in the future, if they have children they won’t be able to finish school either, and this poverty cycle will just continue on and on. In rural areas of Thailand, there are very few job opportunities, and the jobs that are available don’t pay enough for one person to live outside of poverty, let alone an entire family. In big cities things are much different, there are plenty of job opportunities for the people living there, though those who are living in rural areas can’t afford to move, meaning they are pretty much stuck where they are. If more sustainable jobs were available in rural areas, then things would be much different, and people would be able to provide stable income jobs for themselves, which would allow them to support their families and send their children to school. Though until then, if the government doesn’t take action to improve the lives of the millions of people living in rural areas, nothing will change.