Education Organization in Thailand

Almost all villages have an elementary school. Most sub-districts (tambon) have a school for ages 6 through 14 and all districts (amphoe) have secondary schools for ages 12 through 17. Many have vocational colleges for students from age 15.

The government is not able to cope with the entire number of students, thus the private sector, which is supervised by the government, provides a significant contribution. The level of education in the private sector is generally, but not always, higher than that of the government schools. Expensive, exclusive private and international schools provide for a high level of achievement and a large number of their students continue their education at universities abroad.

Charitable organisations (missionary societies or diocesan), and other religions provide the backbone of non-government, low-fee, general education and some established universities, and their standard is relatively high. Cheaper, newer and individual private schools, are occasionally run more for profit and government subsidies than for results, and are often indistinguishable from government schools in terms of quality of buildings, resources, teaching competency, and overcrowded classrooms. Their only real benefit is the prestige afforded to the parents for schooling their children in the private sector.

In rural schools, absenteeism among both students and teachers is high due to family and farming commitments. Some schools close down during rice planting and harvesting seasons.

Over 400 government vocational colleges accept students who have completed Matthayom 3. Their campuses are usually located within daily commuting distances, although some may offer limited dormitory accommodation on campus. Many specialised vocational schools offer training in agriculture, animal husbandry, nursing, administration, hospitality and tourism.

The complexity of administration of Thai education gives rise to duplication among the many ministries and agencies providing education and establishing of standards. In 1980, under the recommendation the Minister of Education, Dr. Sippanondha Ketudat, a Harvard scholar, responsibility for basic elementary education was moved from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Education. Both the Ministry of University Affairs and the Ministry of Education have been actively involved in teacher training. In the early 21st century devolution of some responsibility to newly created educational regions is intended to increase the awareness and ability to address different regional needs.

In comparison with the educational expenditures of other countries, (especially developing countries): China 13%, Indonesia 8.1%, Malaysia 20%, Mexico, 24.3%, Philippines 17%, United Kingdom and France 11%, the Thai GDP and national budget allocate considerable funds to education. By 2006 it represented 27% of the national budget. Although education is mainly financed by the national budget, local funds, particularly in urban areas, are being released to support education. In the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority, up to 28.1% of the education budget has been provided by local financing. Loans and technical assistance for education are also received from Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) (Japan). In December 2008 Education Minister Jurin Laksanawisit announced the intention to provide Thai children with free textbooks and learning materials throughout their 15 years of government-sponsored free education and implemented this policy in May of the 2009 academic year. In 2011, the new elected government proposed providing tablet computers to elementary school students.

Systematic educational research began in 1955 when the International Institute for Child Study was established in Bangkok. The institute has now become the Behavioral Science Research Institute and has conducted both basic and applied research. In the 1960s, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the National Education Commission (ONEC), a department of the Office of the Prime Minister, began programmes of educational research. In-depth research, particularly that of the ONEC, contributed to the education reform initiative of 1999-2002, and extensive research is provided by the country's universities, especially in faculties of education. The Department of Curriculum and Instructional Development of the Ministry of Education also conducts research into testing, curriculum, and content. The National Library, university libraries, and other libraries around the country are electronically networked in order to facilitate research.