PRIVY COUNCILLOR Kasem Watanachai put the many education-related problems in the country down to a lack of good governance.
“We need to think about engaging good and capable people in organising education services,” he said at a public forum yesterday.
His speech was part of the three-day event called “Grand Learning Evolution towards Thailand’s Turning Point”, which is being held at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani. The forum, which wraps up today, was organised by the Quality Learning Foundation (QLF), the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and alliances.
In the speech, Kasem called on Thai educators to overhaul the country’s educational sector so administration costs is reduced and quality education can be delivered to all.
“We need to dedicate more to the education of marginal people,” he pointed out.
Kraiyos Patrawart, an economist at QLF, said the 2011 records of the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) revealed that the amount of state funds earmarked for education in Thailand was the second-highest in the world.
“Yet the quality of education is ranked low among Asean countries, according to the World Economic Forum,” Kraiyos said.
According to him, the government allotted 24 per cent of the state budget for education in 2011, compared to the world average of 20 per cent. A closer look showed that on average, nearly Bt100 per day was spent on education per student, but only about Bt4.5 was spent on their development.
“About Bt75 a day goes toward the teachers’ salaries and some Bt10 a day covers basic utilities like electricity and water,” he pointed out.
Kraiyos believed that if the government was going to increase the budget for education, then the additional amount should be spent on students’ development.
He also encouraged the government to stop allocating funds based on a flat subsidy per student.
“Otherwise, the gap of quality education between small and large schools will continue,” he said.
Thailand Research Development Institute (TDRI) president Somkiat Tangkitvanich said the Kingdom invested enough money in the educational sector.
“But the problem is that this investment is inefficient,” he said. “There are many systems in the sector that need improvement, including the evaluation and teachers’ development systems to ensure the output manages the financial input.”
At the forum, Kasem also recommended that the Education, Labour, Commerce and Industry ministries work together in response to the needs of the labour market.
“There is a lack of quality graduates with high-vocational certificates,” he said.
First published: The Nation, May 8, 2014