Thailand has made commitments to realize the right to education for all children in the country, as called for under various laws and regulations. The 1999 Education Act guarantees the right of all children, without discrimination, to a quality education. A Cabinet declaration in 2005 reaffirmed the right of all children, including non-Thai children living in Thailand, to receive an education. Furthermore, the government announced the extension of a mandatory free education from 12 years to 15 years in 2009.Access to basic education has been gradually expanded to an increasing number of children. The net enrolment rate for primary school age children (6 to 11 years) increased from 81.4 per cent in 2000 to 90.05 per cent in 2009. Similarly, the net enrolment rate for secondary school age children (12 to 17 years) increased from 55.4 per cent in 2000 to 72.22 per cent in 2009.
However, many challenges remain in ensuring a quality basic education for all children in Thailand (please see the data to the right).
What we do
The UNICEF Education Programme focuses on promoting access to early childhood, primary and lower secondary learning at an appropriate age, and on improving the quality of education. It aims to reach children and young people both in and out of school, and emphasizes equal access for all children, regardless of their gender, their social and economic status, or their ethnicity and religious beliefs. It promotes innovative teaching methods, such as bilingual and multi-grade education, and promotes life skills, school readiness and learning achievements. Special attention is being given to education for children who are disabled, orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS.
• Assist the Ministry of Education in establishing a system to track out-of-school children. The system is needed to provide insight into why so many children are not attending school and what can be done to encourage their participation in the education system
• Ensure disadvantaged children enroll in school at the right age and complete the full nine years of compulsory schooling
• Increase the number of children benefiting from quality early childhood services
• Mainstream Child-Friendly School practices into national education plans, policies and standards so that schools across the country provide safe, clean and protective environments for children.
• Although a child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life, only 60 per cent of children in Thailand were attending early childhood development services, according to a survey conducted by National Statistical Office in 2006
• About 600,000 primary school age children (6-11 years) are not attending schools or enrol late
• Thailand is one of the 15 countries in the world which together account for more than half of the world’s out-of-school primary school age children
• Approximately half of the children who started Grade 1 in 1998 did not finish Grade 12
• Of 8,276 early childhood centres, only 34 per cent meet the government’s minimum standard
• Among the 65 countries participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009, students in Thailand ranked 50th in Reading, 50th in Mathematics and 49th in Science
• Of 30,010 schools nationwide, 65 per cent fall below a ‘satisfactory’ level in terms of student educational achievement, the quality of teacher and overall school administration
• In recent years the average scores in the National Achievement Test for Grade 6 and Grade 12 students have fallen below 50 per cent in English, Mathematics, Science and the Social Sciences
• The above data refers to national averages. Children in the poorest families, and those with additional disadvantages, such as disabilities, often far worse in educational achievement