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Education and Schools

Thailand - Education and Schools


Formal education in Thailand begins at the age of six. It is provided free of charge to all Thai nationals by the state government. The education system in Thailand is made up of the formal and informal education sectors. Formal education is taught in classrooms, from primary to university level. Informal education, on the other hand, is acquired away from the classroom. Informal education is the type of learning taught through TV and radio programs, museum artifacts, or libraries. Informal education was taught in ancient Thailand by the Buddhists, who were the only teachers at that time. Today, the Thai government is able to provide free formal education to Thai nationals for the first 9 years after joining primary school.

Though primary level education is not paid for, it may be inaccessible to expats or foreigners residing in Thailand. This is because all subjects in public schools are taught in Thai, creating a language barrier for non-Thai nationals. In addition, any child seeking education in Thailand has to meet all academic requirements to access free compulsory education. Either they should have been born in Thailand or have one or both parents of Thai descent.

Basic education in Thailand

Basic Thai education starts at the nursery level and runs to the lower secondary level. Nursery education starts from KG1 to KG3 and is available to children between the ages of 3 and 6 years. After nursery level, a student qualifies for primary education, or Pratom Susksa (P1 to P6). The primary level education is offered to students aged 6 to 11 years. The final level of compulsory education for a Thai student is the secondary level education. It starts from M1 to M6, and is provided to students from the age of 12 to 18 years. The Thai government has made it mandatory for all Thai students to study up to the M3 level. From here, the student is welcome to pursue advanced secondary levels, M4 to M6, which qualifies them for a University level education. Public schools in Thailand rank exams using a scale of 1 to 4 with 1 for very poor and 4 for excellent. This grading system may differ from the one used in private or international schools that follow the western grading system.

Qualifying for advanced secondary education

Students who complete their lower secondary education or Mayatom (M1 to M3) are required to sit for an exam that qualifies them for an advanced secondary level. This exam is known as the Ordinary National Educational Test or the O-NET test. This exam tests the student on all compulsory subjects from the primary level to the lower secondary level. The subjects taught at this level include Thai, math, english, elementary science, and social science, music, P.E., and work education. In addition, the student will be tested on art and craft, religious studies, history, natural sciences and geography.

Upper secondary education

The upper secondary education starts from year M4 to M6 and is divided into two levels. The first level is the General Upper, which deals with academic work. Subjects taught at this level include biology, chemistry, maths, English, Thai, social studies, P.E., and English as a second language. The second level is the Vocational Upper that combines academic work and vocational subjects like engineering, home economics, agriculture, and business studies.

Qualifications for joining Thai universities

Students interested in joining universities in Thailand have to sit for and pass three compulsory examinations. The first exam is their final M6 test known as the advanced national educational test or A-NET Test. The second test is the general aptitude test or GAT that examines the student on their English skills and reasoning capacity. The final test is the central university admission system exam or the CUAS test. The student must score a minimum GPA of 20%, 25%, and 30% for their GAT, CUAS, and A-NET exams respectively. They may also be required to sit an admission test at the university of their choice.

International Schools in Thailand

Just like state-funded public schools, international schools also offer primary, lower and upper secondary, and university level education. They also provide pre-schooling facilities for children aged below 6 years. However, the curriculum in international schools is totally different from the one in Thailand public schools. These schools adapt to a schooling system influenced by the western world.

Nevertheless, international schools also teach similar subjects found in the upper secondary level in Thai schools. These subjects include science, maths, English, art, geography, and P.E. Thai language and culture are not taught in these schools; instead, they teach foreign languages like French, Spanish, or German. If you wish your child to learn the Thai language, you will have to arrange for private lessons outside their school curriculum.

Can foreigners join Thai schools?

Thai schools do not discriminate against foreigners. However, tuition fees for expats may be slightly higher than those of Thai nationals. Your children can qualify for free education if they are born in Thailand or if your spouse is of Thai descent. The procedure of enrolling your child in a school in Thailand involves:

• Personally visiting and applying for admission in the school of your choice.
• Presenting your child’s birth certificate.
• Presenting your Tabien Baan or house registration document.

Any other required documentation will be communicated by the school. If your child is accepted to the Thai school, you will be required to pay a deposit or capital fee prior to admission. This fee is refundable at the end of your child’s education, but only if it is paid in full the first day of admission. A registration fee will be required after admission of your child to the school. This fee varies from one school to another; for example, a school in Bangkok will charge around $15,000 registration fee, while a Thai International school will charge $3,000.

Other facts about Education in Thailand:

• Thailand has over 140 schools for higher education.
• Thai public schools have a better reputation than private schools and often perform quite exceptionally.
• Half the universities and campuses in Thailand are public and receive support from the Thai government.
• Public universities in Thailand charge relatively cheap tuition fees.


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