Thailand Economic Monitor – June 2015: Quality Education for All

Thailand’s economy is expected to grow up to 3.5% in 2015.

  • In 2014, the economy grew by 0.9% as domestic demand was dampened by political turmoil in the first half of the year and exports fell amid lower demand from China and Southeast Asia.
  • This year, domestic demand is expected to pick up with the fall in oil prices, increase in tourism, and higher public spending.
  • Recovery in the US and EU markets, though slow, will benefit Thai exports.  Nevertheless, exports will continue to grow slowly this year.

Thailand’s export growth has been modest and lagging behind  several Asian countries, due partly to a decline in competitiveness.

  • Exports on average grew 13% per year from 2006-2011, before slowing to less than 1% from 2012-2014.

  • Further improvements in competitiveness will be important for sustained economic growth and rising incomes for the Thai people.

Raising the quality of education for all will help increase the skills and productivity of the labor force and is key to improving Thailand’s competitiveness.

  • Thailand has made great progress in expanding basic education. Still, providing a quality education for all can maximize students’ potential in joining Thailand’s skilled workforce.

  • Almost 1/3 of Thai 15-year-old students are “functionally illiterate.” They lack the skills needed to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.

  • The problem is particularly acute for small village schools, which face teacher shortages and have less than one teacher per classroom.
  • Small village schools are also severely under-resourced making it difficult to deliver quality education because of inadequate teaching materials, poor physical infrastructure and inexperienced teachers.
  • Organizing networks of smaller rural schools can optimize the impact of good teachers, making all classrooms benefit. It can also bring better education for all students and reduce the disparity in education results between urban and rural schools.