Today the parliament passed the mid-year budget in principle with 265 votes to 61 while 93 MPs abstained and 2 didn't vote. What does that mean in reality. Well to put it into perspective 28.3% of the budget is on education spending. What you say, can't be!!!! Well it is.
According to visualeconomics.com Thailand spends more on education than anyone on their list. A full 11.2% more than the USA, 15% more than Australia and 15.6% more than Canada. There are probably a few who would argue that the Thai education system is as good and they will likely also argue that the world is flat. A hollow arguments at best.
So, I'll tell you a little story. Once upon a time last year, in the Summer, Thai summer that is, when I was doing research for a story on the Reds. We also decided to try and find a decent school for our son who was then four. We had some criteria. The school had to be primarily English language, had to be clean , had to have a low teacher turnover, realistic student teacher ratio and had to be somewhat affordable. Guess what? We couldn't find one at least not in Phayao, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun or Lampang. We found lots of schools but all failed on one or two counts, sometimes all of them. Now, as a family, we may be a bit biased. I attended school in the West and my wife worked on her graduate degree at University in Canada.
We decided to send our son to school, in Canada. The opportunities offered by the better end of the Thai school system were just downright lousy, not to mention expensive.
So off to Canada we trundled, bags in hand. The move wasn't all that traumatic as we have a nice little house on the West coast and we all have Canadian citizenship. So off to the school we went to register prior to the first day. Only the principal was in the school but she was so helpful and made our son feel at home instantly. The school is relatively new, maybe 10 years old. Only bad thing I could find was the soccer pitch was not draining too well, but I digress.
This school is chocked full of computer labs with wide screens, Teaching aids, well stocked library, a gymnasium and it's clean as our house. Did I mention WiFi?
In our son's class there are 18 other students as the class limit is 19 from the local school board. For those 19 students there is one teacher, one teacher's assistant and one special needs teacher. As our son speaks a second language, Thai, he's got a ESL teacher that he shares with two Filipino students and a Mexican. Funny part is, they now all speak English better than they do their native languages, but they insist the ESL teacher is a necessity. I'm not sure - kids adapt very quickly.
My kid just loves going to school. No rote learning, just it's all interactive kids teachers in a loosely laid out setting that they all feel comfortable about. Kids are allowed and actually encouraged to explore and ask questions of themselves, their friends and the staff. Yesterday, we went to the school because they had a Parent student learning session, based on mathematics, where the kids could move from one station to another and ask questions of the parents and the teachers. Try that one in Thailand. Not likely, it's more like - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua over and over and over again - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua.
Now to the costs. If we stayed in Thailand we would have had to put out at least 70,000 baht a year for a school we felt a bit confident with, or God knows how much for one that was acceptable, but with reservation. Then add on all the extras like school trips busing etc and you can add a couple of thousand more a month easily.
In Canada the school costs us nothing, it's on our house taxes that we get to pay, even if we are in Thailand, about 15,500 Bt a year. We don't have to pay for the bus as it's free. Now the extra cost items. The school buys all the yearly supplies in bulk for a year - books, pencils, rulers, crayons, felts etc cost 625 bt. They just went for swimming lessons for a month, cost 750 baht and it was optional. They have a hot lunch program, also optional, on Fridays cost about 75 baht.
Not counting the house tax, that you would pay anyway kids or not, the total cost for a year at a Canadian Elementary school somewhere around 5000 bt or under 500 bt a month. Even a peasant could send their kid to school here.
Not to be outdone the Government will cover the entire cost of correspondence via the Internet for 2 years when we decide to move back to Thailand. in the future, which we plan.
Now after reading all that can someone tell me, what does that extra 15.6% do for the Thai school system other than line someone's pocket?
Labels: community radio, democracy, education, ricefieldradio, thailand