Thailand’s education system has continued to improve over the past few decades, as well as girls education in Thailand. Like many poverty-stricken countries, however, Thailand still struggles to provide education and tackle the gender equality gap among young boys and girls in school.
Thailand is among the few countries in the world that have never been colonized by European powers, therefore their education system developed mainly on its own. The country has been focusing its efforts on education reform, however, the process has been a difficult one. The country has had no less than twenty different education ministers in the past 17 years. After the military coup in 2014, the Thailand government has been trying to regain the education reforms that were interrupted and have increased funding for education.
Thailand’s education system gives children and families many choices on how they want to receive an education. Elementary education is the first nine years of a child’s education, with six years of elementary and three years of lower-secondary school. Students are able to be enrolled when they first turn six and admission is generally open to all children. The government also provides three years of free pre-school and three years of free upper-secondary education that can be completed after they finished their studies, both of which are optional. In 2013, 75 percent of eligible youth were enrolled in upper-secondary school programs. Secondary education starts at the age of 12 and consists of three years of lower secondary education.
Girls access to education is virtually equal to that of boys, as the Thai government provides all children with a twelve-year education. In 2006, the ministry of education found that primary school net attendance for boys was 85.1 percent and 85.7 for girls. Currently, enrollment rates are mostly equal for both genders.
Though girls education in Thailand is accessible, they still face discrimination and other hardships at the schools. Educational opportunity in Thailand is more of an issue of class and affordability than gender and culture, though both are factors. Some such hardships are the cost of supplies and uniforms. A report by the poverty line found that in higher education, the student’s family could not afford the school fees, uniform expenses, textbooks, meals and, in particular, transportation costs to the school.
An earlier article on this topic stated that the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C. found that girls face discrimination in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields from as early as primary school. A 2015 report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that the discrimination in these cases stemmed from gender stereotypes and a lack of female role models in STEM, and social anxiety.
UNESCO is now working with Thai educators to improve STEM education and motivate young girls to pursue their dreams in the sciences. This is part of a 20-year strategy that aims to transform the country to have innovation, creativity, research and development, and green and high-technologies drive the economy.
This article was written for the Borgen Project. To learn more about this organization and read more articles like this one go to Borgenproject.org