The 1999 National Education Act (NEA) stipulates that the Ministry of Education (MOE) is the main agency responsible for overseeing the provision of education at all levels, including basic and higher education, and of all types, including formal, non-formal and informal education. The financing and administration of education are decentalised to Education Service Areas, local authorities and schools1.
Thailand ensures 15 years of free education from pre-primary to upper secondary education2. The government finances pre-school through completion of basic education to enable all children and young people of school age to acquire an education by reallocating budget to local authorities for the provision of education. The current budget model is based on student numbers.
The Education Provision for People with Disabilities Act became law in 2008, many Thai students with disabilities have gained access to educational services. In 2017, the National Education Plan for the Year 2017 -2036 referred to Inclusive Education as the education provision for all learners, including students in socioeconomic disadvantaged situations.
The total budget for FY 2019 is THD 510 billion (US$17 billion) accounting for 17 percent of the total government budget. Of that, subsidies amount for THD198 billion (US$6.5 billion).
The 2017 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (B.E. 2560) stipulated the enactment of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) Act in May 2018. EEF targets 4.3 million population that are poor and disadvantaged, out-of-school children, high school dropouts, and teachers and schools teach disadvantaged students.
Special schools and rural schools
In 2016, there were 46 special education institutions for students with disability and 51 welfare education institutions for the disadvantaged children. Regular schools can also provide special education and welfare education. There were 18,618 regular but inclusive schools serving children with disabilities in 2006. Many schools accommodate students with disabilities after the Education Provision for People with Disabilities Act became law in 2008 and also to obtain the associated extra funding from the government. Over 80 percent of students with disability go to inclusive schools. The budget for students with disabilities comes from two primary sources, a regular allocation from the Office of the Basic Education Commission and the Educational Fund for students with disabilities.
Each inclusive elementary school receives BHT10,000 (around US$300) per year. Teachers in special education who works no less than 18 hours a week receive about BHT2000 (around US$60) a month in addition to their regular teaching salary.
The Ministry of Education has undertaken a project to support the development of strong rural schools to become ‘model schools’ that serve as centers to demonstrate quality education. 6,545 schools have been selected for the ‘Strong tambon School’ Project during the past 5 to 8 years. In 2013 a budget of BHT 934,000 - 935,000 (about US$31,000) was provided to 836 schools to renovate and repair their facilities, improve the landscape, obtain instructional materials to support teaching-learning and activities.
Schools teaching poor and disadvantaged students
EEF sets aside a budget of BHT 750 million (US$25 million) per year for teachers and schools that teach disadvantaged students in addition to existing BHT 4 billion (US$132 million) a year, 15% of the overall budget for EEF.
Students with disabilities
The national government provide a coupon per semester, minimum BHT 2000 (US$50) per head, which they can exchange for assistive technology as well as additional services. They can also access the educational fund for people with disabilities, which help with access to such things as higher education.
According to the Statistic in Brief, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education in 2012, the overall per-head subsidy for students from kindergarten through completion of basic education was US$1.3 billion. Of which, 60% went to instruction, 13% to textbooks, 7% for educational equipment, 7% for student uniforms, 12% for activities for quality development of learners.
Students from low-income households
EEF provides poor students in primary school BHT 25-50 (US$ 0.8-50) a day and secondary school BHT 30-75 (US$1-2.5) a day; out-of-school children and youth in pre-primary BHT 25-50 (US$0.8- 50) a day and high school/vocational schools BHT 75-150 (US$2-5) a day, which amounts the annual total of BHT14 billion (US$462 million), 56% of the overall annual budget for EEF. In December 2018, the transfer of first state subsidies was made to 400,000 students from low-income families.
The 2017 Household Socio-Economic Survey found that 0.6% of the respondents receive any form of government’s scholarship. The access to government loan for education is 0.9%.
One District–One Scholarship: Community Development Grants for students whose household income is less than BHT100,000 (US$3,300). Since its launch in 2004, there has been four round of scholarships were given This scholarship was first implemented in 2004 and the total of 3093 recipients were awarded.
Scholarships for low-income students, was created in 2003 when the Council of Ministers approved allocating lottery revenues to provide scholarships for low income students. The scheme provides funds of up to BHT 20,000 (US$660) per year for a maximum of three years. The financial criteria for selection are student family income below BHT100,000 (US$3,300) per year.
A loan fund has also been established to assist young people at the upper secondary and tertiary levels in the general and vocational streams in bearing cost of living and other expenses to enable them continue on in school.
Thailand Income Contingent and Allowance Loan (TICAL). Under the scheme, students apply directly for a loan to pursue a degree in any field at any public or private university. The total amount of the loan is adjusted periodically for inflation in order to maintain its original value. There is no interest rate, payments are collected through revenue taxes and students start repaying upon graduation when their income reaches a specific threshold (BHT16,000, or US$530) per month).
School lunch and supplementary food
According to the 2017 Household Socio-Economic Survey, 25% of the respondents received school lunch and supplementary food.
In Thailand, the government’s approach to poverty problems are through directly on poverty reduction, securing housing of the poor, and natural resource and environmental management. In October 2015, the Thailand Government introduced the Child Support Grant to provide financial assistance to poor families with newborn children.