Thai education inequality grows, more students need financial aid

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Thousands more students are seeking financial help this year, growing the education gap between the rich and the poor. Some families cannot afford to send their children to school due to financial stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, chief of the Equitable Education Fund says.

Around 1.8 million students applied for financial aid this year. 1.56 million applied last year. That’s a 17.5% increase. 20% of financial aid applicants are typically families that face extreme poverty. This year that group raised from 300,000 applicants to 600,000. Chaiyuth Punyasavatsut, the fund’s chief, says some families have to come up with tuition fees 3 to 4 times higher than their income to send their children to higher classes.

“It can be confirmed that Covid-19 has worsened the economic situation and educational gap. More children are slipping through the system due to high tuition fees.”

From 2015 to 2018, poverty rates grew from 7.2% to 9.8%, according to the World Bank. The number of people living in poverty increased from 4.85 million to more than 6.7 million people. Uneven education is a big challenge in Thailand, the World Bank says.

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“A Thai child born today can expect to obtain 12.4 years of schooling before the age of 18. However, once adjusted for quality of learning, that only amounts to 8.6 years of schooling, indicating a gap of 3.8 years.”

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | World Bank in Thailand

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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