According to UNESCO’s 2017/8 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, there remain substantial challenges to the quality of education in Thailand:
- 99% complete primary education, but only 85% complete lower secondary education.
- 50% are not taught in the language spoken at home.
- 12% do not achieve a minimum proficiency level in mathematics at the end of primary.
- 62% of out of school lower secondary school adolescents are girls.
- At the end of lower secondary education, only 50% have a minimum proficiency level in reading and only 46% in mathematics.
- Only 45% of schools have basic sanitation facilities – only 60% have access to basic drinking water.
- 80 of the poorest complete lower secondary education compared to 100 of the richest.
- There are 3.9 million adults unable to read a simple sentence
- A third of students aged 13 to 15 years experienced bullying between 2010 and 2015, and 29% experienced physical violence.
Positively, Thailand has the justiciable right to education, meaning that citizens can take the issue to court if that right is violated – something only 55% of countries can say.
The accountability of education needs to be improved:
Thailand has an accountability system based on test scores, yet learning outcomes have not improved from 2003-2015.
The country has not published a national education monitoring Report since 2006, which the GEMR deems crucial for transparency with the public over progress against the national education plan.
The government would also benefit from developing credible and efficient regulations as well as monitoring mechanisms and adhering to follow-up sanctions when standards are not met. There are no regulations on the maximum number of pupils per teacher in either primary or secondary education. There are also no regulations on health and safety at all in public, with regulations only for private schools on access to water supply and separate toilets for boys and girls. Most likely as a result, only 45% of schools have basic sanitation facilities.
Thailand uses student evaluations to feed into evaluations of teachers, which are subject to bias. The validity of student evaluations rests on the assumption that students understand, observe and recognize good teaching, and report it truthfully. A comprehensive international review of the evidence since 2000 cautioned that student evaluations can be subject to bias. Their reliability and validity depended on the evaluation tool used, how it was developed, how it was administered and its degree of detail.
Governments need to enforce educational technology contracts more effectively to ensure equal access and utility. In Thailand, a private provider of laptops could not deliver 800,000 tablets, refused to pay late fees, filed for bankruptcy and terminated the contract. In 2012, Thailand launched the One Tablet per Child project. The relatively low winning bid came from Shenzhen Corp. The Bangkok Post reported major issues, with 30% of the initial products broken, although the government claimed less than 1% were in disrepair Ultimately, Shenzhen could not deliver the promised 800,000 tablets on time. It refused to pay late fees, filed for bankruptcy and terminated the contract. In 2014, a new government scrapped the programme and ordered schools to turn over the tablets
There are data challenges in Thailand: In Thailand, the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (NIETS) has administered the Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) at primary grade 6 (P6) and secondary grades 9 (M3) and 12 (M6) since 2005. The number of subjects was reduced from eight to five in 2016. The data is used by local education authorities to compare individual schools against district or national averages. They are also used by the inspection service. However, there are no common student performance standards, and the main role of O-NET is to certify education level completion. O-NET scores fluctuate between years, which means they cannot be used to assess whether the system meets curricular expectations. A review indicated capacity gaps in test development and analysis at NIETS. Similar concerns were also raised about central and local education administrators’ capacity to interpret results.