UNICEF urges Thailand to invest in its children’s education or suffer

UNICEF urges Thailand to invest in its children’s education for the socioeconomic prosperity of the country. The humanitarian organization made the plea on the back of a report which revealed a large majority of Thai students drop out of education halfway through.

Kyungsun Kim, director of UNICEF Thailand, said the number of Thais who are “not in education, employment or training” (NEET) is concerning.

“Thailand is undergoing many changes because of its ageing population, digitisation, automation and advances in artificial intelligence. Children today need more “skills and productivity to help the country’s economy grow.”

Kim presented findings from a study on NEET among Thai youth, which was a collaborative effort between UNICEF, the Ministry of Labour, and Chulalongkorn University, reported Bangkok Post.

According to the report, even though more students are enrolled in the education system, 2% of them drop out midway. The report states that there are 1.4 million NEETs aged between 15 and 24, which accounts for 15% of this age group, as per the most recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.

Moreover, the number of NEETs gainfully employed has decreased from 4.8 million in 2011 to 2.7 million in 2021. The report also highlights that 70% of students who leave school midway do not have any plans for further education.

Kim revealed that 70% of NEETs are women who drop out of school to take care of their families. People with disabilities, migrant workers, and children from low-income families are also at risk of facing challenges in accessing education and finding employment. She said…

“Investing in education is crucial to the socioeconomic prosperity of the country. We hope this research will persuade the government of the importance of this issue, resulting in a long-term solution.”

Rattiya Phulaor, the deputy dean of the College of Population Studies at Chulalongkorn University, proposed several solutions to tackle the NEET problem.

Rattiya reckons the country needs to develop an integrated NEET plan and monitoring system that can provide timely assistance, and it is also crucial to establish a centralized database to support the implementation of these measures.

Phulaor emphasized that while it is essential to provide targeted assistance to specific age groups, promoting work and life skills at various stages of life is also critical for achieving long-term solutions. To reduce the number of students who drop out of school, the system needs to allow for a broader interpretation of “education.” Phulaor suggested promoting work-based education as working is also a form of learning.

On a larger scale, Phulaor recommended setting up a national committee for NEET to guide policy implementation. Additionally, career counsellors should focus not only on schools but also on public employment services and to improve the quality of education, teacher quality should also be enhanced.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.