There is four level education system in Thailand, namely:
- Pre-School Education
- Primary Education
- Secondary Education
- Higher Education
Another way of distinguishing formal education system as per level of education is as mentioned below:
- Early year education
- Basic Education
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Higher Education
Pre-School Education in Thailand
This is provided for 3 to 5 year old children. It encourages development on all spheres: intellectual, emotional and social prior to the start of formal education. Pre-school educational institutions include:
- Nursery Schools
- Day Care Centres for Children
- There is a model kindergarten in each provincial capital to serve a model for private institutions
- As the educational level is optional, private sector plays a crucial role
- Most of the pre-schools are private. Around 74% of children aged three to five years form part of pre-school education
Basic Education: Primary and Secondary Education in Thailand
Thai Basic education system comprises the following:
- 6 years primary schooling: Prathom Grades one to six
- 3 years lower secondary schooling: Mattayom from Grades one to three
- 3 years upper secondary schooling: Mattayom 4 to 6
- Since 2003, mandatory education was extended to 9 years up to Mattayom 6.
Curriculum: The curriculum at this level comprises eight fundamental subjects namely- Thai, science, mathematics, social studies, religion and culture, arts, careers and technology, health and physical education and international languages. The curriculum is extremely flexible and consistent with set learning standards in fundamental groups. Promotion of thinking skills and independent learning strategies forms the core of the Thai National curriculum.
This provides children with essential literary and communication skills to prepare them for higher studies. Education is compulsory and free for children from the ages of six to eleven. Primary school curriculum is an integrated curriculum comprising 5 critical areas of learning:
- Developing basic skills
- Life experience
- Development of character
- Education which is work oriented
- Special experiences
Primary education is under the Office of Commission of Basic Education, Ministry of Education.
There are demo schools linked with universities as well. Education in Thailand is under government control. Thai school year lasts from May to the month of March for primary and middle schooling. Secondary schooling commences 1 month later.
Middle Education in Thailand
3 years of middle school come after primary school. Core, basic subjects during this period include math, social science, technology, arts, music Thai and foreign languages. Following completion of middle school, students follow a vocational or academic path, depending upon their preferences.
Secondary Education in Thailand
Levels of Secondary Education: This is divided into 2 levels comprising 3 years for each. Lower secondary and upper secondary education complement each other.
Lower Secondary Education: Lower level lays stress on the intellect of learners as well as their ethics and fundamental skills. Individual interest and aptitude can be followed through either the vocational or academic path.
Upper Secondary Education: This aims to provide academic and vocational skills and knowledge corresponding to the interest level and aptitude of the learner. Students can then enter a profession or pursue further studies depending upon whether they choose the vocational or academic path.
8 basic subjects have been covered under secondary curriculum: Thai, science, social science, maths, religion and culture, health and physical education, art, technology, career and international languages.
Academic or Vocational Path: Many pre vocational subjects can also be accessed. Public and private institutions are both involved in organisation of secondary education. Public schools are under the Office of Commission of Basic Education of the ministry. Students should chose elective courses if they want to go in for higher studies.
Vocational and Technical Education in Thailand
Vocational education commences in Thailand from high school. Students can go in for this practical education or opt for the academic path. Students who choose the vocational path can choose one of the following two options:
- Certificate of vocational education and higher diploma which opens the way to university degree
- Technical diploma
Vocational education comprises 3 levels namely:
- Upper Secondary: Lower Certificate of Vocational Education
- Post Secondary: Diploma/Vocational Degree (Associate)
- University Level: Degree
Students can opt for majors in the following categories:
- Trade and Industry
- Home Economic
- Business and Tourism
- Arts and Crafts
Move is towards lifelong learning through a credit transfer system to facilitate institutional mobility.
Higher/Tertiary Education in Thailand
Public as well as private colleges of education offer many opportunities for studies in varied fields such as arts, medicine, IT and so on. Higher studies in Thailand aim at development of intellect and know-how.
Entrance to Higher Studies: Students enter higher education following the High School Entrance Exams taken at the end of the 12th grade or Mattayom number six. With recent reforms in the field of education, GPA has become essential as a measure for admission into universities. Higher education is provided at diploma and graduate degree level
Types of Degree Programmes: Undergraduate programmes in Thailand generally last for 4 years and are full-time. However, certain subjects such as architecture and education need 5 years. Many subjects even need 6 years of education such as doctor of dental surgery, pharmacy, medicine and veterinary medicine. Postgraduate programmes are for 1 to 2 years. Degree is conferred either through a thesis or final exam. Students can apply for admission exams to secure entry into doctoral programmes. Doctoral studies involve research, coursework and dissertation submission.
The school and higher education system in Thailand is eclectic and students have the choice of branching out into either vocational/practical or academic path. The education system here is well organised and under the aegis of the ministry of education.