Thailand Facing Inequality In Education

The appeal of an international school in Bangkok is clear and appealing, but for many in the country, that’s merely a dream, thanks to the massive inequality in the country.

According to a recent Credit Suisse report, Thailand is the most unequal country in the world, with the top 1% of the population possessing 66.9% of the country’s wealth. This has resulted in social justice advocacy group, We Fair Network, to call for serious reforms of the country’s budget and welfare system.

The group presented its proposal for reforms based on seven key aspects, one of which is education.

According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores set by Thailand in the latest three surveys; 2009, 2012, and 2015, the country’s education system has been struggling. In 2009, it sat at 50th, out of 65 countries, staying that way in 2012, whilst dropping to 54th when the participating countries went up to 70.

The ones suffering the most from these scores are the ones unable to afford higher quality educations that institutions like an international school in Bangkok would provide, as education inequality in the country continues to run rampant.

Principal Stephen Holroyd, Shrewsbury International School, noted that elite schools still send their most affluent students to expensive Oxbridge and Ivy League universities in the UK and US. These internationally educated students, as a result of their quality education and their networking with other elite foreign university students, are better able to be employed into top jobs in Thailand.

2019 is expected to bring in changes, as Thailand will likely have its first election since 2014, when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, alongside the military, took control of the government. His biggest problem, as it stands, is considered to be the fact that he’s from the Pheu Thai Party, which is largely supported by the poor Thai community.

The reason why Pheu Thai gets a lot of support from these people is because it’s this party that implemented ideas like universal healthcare, debt relief, loans for start-up businesses, as well as subsidies for farmers.

Earlier in December, reports in the country stated that about 600,000 students classified as ‘very poor’ will receive an additional US$24 from the state every semester, as part of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), which works alongside the Office of Basic Education Commission in order to reduce educational disparity in Thailand.

The We Fair Network, however, asserts that the problem will not simply go away by throwing money at it, saying that the quality of education in Thailand so that it isn’t just the affluent who can get quality education in the country.