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Education in Thailand - statistics & facts

Education in Thailand is a significant factor that has transitioned the country’s demographic from a dominantly agrarian society to an upper-middle-income demographic. The country’s average years of schooling have continued to increase to almost nine years while also showing lower schooling discrepancy between men and women. Although continuously developing, Thailand’s education system still faces challenges regarding educational opportunities, mainly for those of low income living in rural areas, as seen in lower mean years of schooling in regional locations compared to Bangkok. Additionally, the perception of different academic programs has also led to labor supply shortages because of instilled values for students to study in more socially revered disciplines.

An overview of the education system in Thailand

The Ministry of Education is mainly responsible for regulating education in Thailand. By law, children must start their formal education no older than seven years old and study until the end of secondary school. After secondary education, students may continue in general or vocational programs. Overall, Thai students prefer to enroll in general education since it allows them to ease into university degrees.

On the other hand, vocational training prepares students for specific job markets such as commerce, hospitality, mechanics, or agriculture, which are considered more labor-intensive. Students with vocational training may decide to enter the job market or pursue higher education to receive a diploma in higher technical education.

Despite these options, free education in Thailand is only available for twelve years: from nursery school until the end of middle school. Therefore, having a formal education is not entirely flexible for everyone of all socioeconomic statuses. The state has thus established non-formal education programs for individuals 15 years and older to continue their studies in their own time. Although options for non-formal education exist, employers still prefer to hire those trained in formal education, which takes up more than half of the country’s labor force.

The challenges of the education system

Many high school graduates prefer to choose disciplines within the medical field for their university degrees as they are perceived as prestigious. Because of this, many high school students enroll in science and math programs rather than art programs, causing most people to undervalue other non-science programs. Additionally, pursuing vocational training is not the most favorable option among students since many perceive it as training for low-income jobs. This lack of interest has led to less enrolment in vocational schools and thus a shortage of skill-specific workers. However, educational institutions are acknowledging this issue and attempting to rebrand vocational training as a viable option for prospective students, which has somewhat succeeded, as seen by higher vocational school enrolment in recent years.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 22 most important statistics relating to "Education in Thailand".

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