Educational inequality sparks call for Thai government investment in human capital

Photo: Freepik

The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) urged the Thai government to bolster investments in human capital to enhance the lives of students belonging to low-income families and curtail educational inequality.

The call was made at the annual Equity Forum, held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, to deliberate on the significance of such investments in addressing educational disparities.

Kraiyos Patrawart, the EEF’s managing director, shared an annual report on educational inequality at the event. The report indicated that Thailand is still grappling with the reverberations of the Covid-19 pandemic. Inflation is further exacerbating educational inequality, predominantly in terms of living costs associated with education, such as travel and food expenses.

Kraiyos voiced concerns about a potential K-shaped recovery, a scenario where the wealth of the affluent grows while the poorer section of the society becomes increasingly impoverished.

He pointed out that children hailing from resource-rich families stand a better chance of recovering from educational setbacks. In contrast, vulnerable children or those outside the educational system risk turning into a lost generation.

To prevent children from falling through the cracks of the education system, Kraiyos underscored the need for a shift in human capital development. He also touched upon the declining birth rate in the kingdom due to a decrease in fertility.

Mitigating educational inequality

In the context of Thailand’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 13th national economic and societal development plan slated for completion in five to seven years, Kraiyos stressed that investing in human capital was crucial.

He asserted that such investments could boost incomes by 40% per person by 2036, which, in turn, would increase the nation’s tax revenues and ensure economic stability.

A study by UNESCO indicated that if Thailand could mitigate educational inequality, it could spur economic growth by 3%. In the academic year of 2023, Thailand is expected to have around 1.8 million children from impoverished families.

The EEF has extended educational funding to approximately 1.24 million students from poor and extremely poor backgrounds, a significant increase from the 994,428 students supported in 2020, reported Bangkok Post.

Despite the implementation of a free tuition policy, numerous children from extremely poor families are unable to attend school due to financial constraints. According to Kraiyos, the average income of low-income families has dwindled to 1,039 baht per month, or an average of 34 baht per day this year, falling below the international poverty line of US$2.15 or approximately 80 baht per day.

Weerachart Kilenthong, director of the Research Institute for Policy Evaluation and Design (Riped), recommended focusing on children with low readiness levels as they require additional support.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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