K12 Education System in Thailand
School education in Thailand lasts for 12 years in duration. Public education is free for all students. First 9 years of schooling are mandatory. Education system has a structure of 6 by 3 and 3. This involves 6 years of primary education, 3 years of lower secondary and upper secondary education. Grades 1 to 6 are called Prathom while 7 to 12 are referred as to Matayom. Before 1970s, the structure of school education was 4-3-3-2.
Students must take the national exam at the end of 3,6 and 9 years. Prathom 3 students must complete math and Thai exams. Towards the close of the cycle of primary education, students must successfully pass exams in the following subjects:maths, Thai, Science and English.
Upper secondary students in class 9 are tested for maths, science, Thai, English and social sciences. University attached schools are the most sought after. Competitive entrance exams are held for admission to schools.
Primary education commences at the age of 6 following 3 years of kindergarten. Pre-school is not compulsory in Thailand. The first 6 years of basic education focus on 5 hour lessons per day. Curriculum is associated with 8 core learning areas: namely basic skills, character development, life experience, work and special education as well as English. During the first year of primary school, English is taught across Thailand. Final exam towards the close of Pratham VI must be passed to attain the Certificate of Primary Education.
Six year secondary education is divided into lower and higher secondary education. The lower secondary education cycle is called Matayom 1 to 3 while the final three years are Matayom 4 to 6. Students who want admission in upper secondary education must pass an entrance exam.
Matayom 1 to 3
At this secondary level of education, students must complete a general education program to acquire the Certificate of Lower Secondary Education called MS or Matayom 3. Basic admission requirement for public schools is completion of education at the primary level. Admission process is pretty competitive. Attendance to best schools is a good way to ensure admission to premier institutions at higher level. General education program comprises 5 key subjects namely Thai, foreign languages, social science, science and math, arts and vocational education. Students must finish 90 units and attain passing grades in 80 units.
Mayatom 4 to 6
Students must complete their lower secondary level and pass the entrance exam to access upper secondary education. Government schools are either general or vocational. General education is for academic studies while vocational education is career oriented. General education at this level involves 5 key subject areas and students must obtain a mix of compulsory and elective subjects. Specialisations are chosen on the basis of certain programs.
Students can earn credit for the subjects with passes in at least 75 credits for graduation. While 15 credits have to be attained in compulsory subjects, 15 are from elective and the remaining are from optional topics. Final exams are taken at the close of upper secondary education leading to attainment of secondary education certificate called Matayom/MS6. Following final school exams, entrance exams have to be passed for university admission.
Vocational upper secondary education requires the same mandatory subjects as the general stream and 4 types of certificates will be awarded including Certificate in Vocational Education and Certificate in Dual Vocational Education. Students can complete the credit system over a period of 3 to as much as 8 years. It results in award of vocational education certificate. Evening classes are also available. A GPA of at least 2.0 is necessary for successful degree.
Primary and Secondary education in Thailand is extremely comprehensive and oriented towards developing the faculties of students. It encourages personal development as well as growth of career related skills. From Kindergarten to Upper Secondary School, there is constant emphasis on balanced development and holistic growth.