Children not in school

Early childhood development

Quality of education



© UNICEF Thailand/2008/M. Thomas
A Lahu-ethnic girl at Dong Mafai Hilltribe School in northern province of Mae Hong Son.

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

UNICEF 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  gender,  social and economic status, or  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.

Our goal

• 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.





Key facts

• Although a child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life, only 84 per cent of children aged 3-5 in Thailand attend early childhood development services

• Only 75 per cent of children who are of primary school entry age (age 6) are entering Grade 1

• Of some 20,000 early childhood development centres nationwide, 67 per cent passed quality assessment in 2013

• Among the 65 countries participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012, students in Thailand ranked 48th in Reading and Science and 50th in Mathematics


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