All children should have access to quality education

A group of students are reading a book together.
UNICEF Thailand/2014/Thuentap

The challenge

The law entitles all children within Thailand to enrol in school, regardless of their background or nationality.

Around 95 per cent of primary-school age children in the country attend school. Unfortunately, disparities in access are more pronounced at the secondary school level. About 14 per cent of secondary-school age children are not in school. The largest proportion of children not in school are from disadvantaged communities, migrants, or children living with a disability.

The quality of education is also a major challenge. Of the 72 countries covered by the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Thailand ranked 54th in science and 57th in mathematics. Results from the 2016 national tests in nine core subjects for Grade 12 students revealed that students in Thailand failed eight out of nine subjects on average. This level of competency is likely to have a serious, long-term impact on the country’s future if not quickly addressed.

14 per cent donut chart

of children of secondary-school age are not in school

40% of non-Thai children of primary-school entry age do not attend grade 1

40% of non-Thai children of primary-school entry age do not attend grade 1

34% of non-Thai children of secondary-school age are not in secondary school

34% of non-Thai children of secondary-school age are not in secondary school

The solutions

  • UNICEF Thailand and Right to Play worked together to develop the 21st Century Skills Education Teacher Manual, and partnered with Ministry of Education to launch it in January 2017 to address the need to strengthen 21st century skills among students.
  • Early 2017, UNICEF Thailand partnered with the NSO to disseminate the results of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2015-2016, including education disparities, at the national and provincial levels, and advocated for specific measures to address the challenges identified, including strengthening mother tongue-based education for ethnic minority children and more equitable and targeted financing for small rural schools.
  • UNICEF Thailand engaged with Office of Education Council in the development of the 20-year national education plan, which was launched in April. The plan prioritizes achieving equity in education with 100 per cent targets for enrolment and completion, skills development and improving learning outcomes. 
  • To determine inequities in the education system, UNICEF Thailand drew upon MICS data and the UNICEF-supported Public Expenditure Tracking Survey findings (launched in July) that highlighted inefficiencies in how school subsidies are designed and spent. UNICEF Thailand engaged with the Committee during the development phase, developing a concept note to outline principles for the fund, setting expectations for what the fund can achieve, how it can operate and how it will engage with government programmes, schemes and budgets to ensure complementarity and synergy rather than creating inefficient duplications. The Education Fund Act was published in the Government Gazette in May 2018.