Decline in family income threatens Thai children’s education

Photo courtesy of The Nation

The average monthly income of Thailand’s very poor families has plummeted, placing children’s education in jeopardy.

According to the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), these families’ earnings dropped to a mere 1,039 baht per month in 2023, down from 1,077 baht in 2020. This translates to a daily income of just 34 baht—far below the World Bank’s poverty line of 80 baht per day.

EEF’s 2023 annual report paints a grim picture: children from these impoverished households face a high risk of being unable to complete mandatory education (Mathayom 3, equivalent to Grade 9). The report highlights that these families, primarily located in remote regions, cannot afford to support their children’s schooling.

Mae Hong Son province tops the list, with a staggering 54.99% of its students classified as very poor. Other provinces in the North and Northeast, such as Nakhon Phanom (45.21%), Amnat Charoen (44.9%), Kalasin (43.25%), and Yasothon (41.94%), also report alarmingly high percentages.

The EEF outlines four main factors driving these students out of school:

  1. Crippling Household Debt: Families prioritise basic needs like food and shelter over education due to chronic debt.
  2. Limited Financial Aid: A scarcity of student loans and scholarships, compounded by a fear of debt, discourages applications. Only 5.14% of very poor students sought loans in 2023.
  3. Soaring Education Costs: Beyond tuition fees, expenses for meals, uniforms, dormitories, and transport have surged due to inflation.
  4. High Entrance Fees: Application and test fees can range from 100 to 1,000 baht per subject, with upfront tuition fees for successful candidates reaching 10,000 to 20,000 baht.

The EEF urges the government and relevant agencies to enhance support for these vulnerable students by increasing family incomes and providing more accessible student loans, reported The Nation.

Additionally, the fund suggests exploring informal education as a viable alternative to help children acquire essential skills without incurring overwhelming debt.

In related news, Thailand’s Education Minister Police General Permpoon Chidchob announced that Thai students are leaving mid-year at an alarming rate. But despite this recent uptick, the minister expects a reversal of this trend in the near future.

Bangkok NewsEducationPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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