What is life like for students in Thailand?
Most children eat a very light breakfast before going to school. Their breakfast usually includes rice, fish and other meat products, fruits, bread, and a glass of milk. Children in the countryside have to wake up early to help with the chores at home. The boys often help their father in fetching water and feeding the animals. The girls will help their mother in cooking breakfast, cleaning the house, and setting the table. After which, they will take a bath, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Thais are very hard working and they see to it that their children know the value of hard work even at a very young age.
Majority of the children walk to school while others ride their bike or take the public transportation systems like buses and motorbikes. However, those who are enrolled in the private schools take their school buses. Parents who have their own cars drop their children off at school before going to work. Young children are accompanied by their parents but once they get used to it, they will go with older children to school. Children also love walking to and from school with their friends and neighbors.
Education is provided by the Thai government through the Ministry of Education starting from the preschool to senior high school. It is stipulated in their constitution that the government provide a free basic education of twelve years and children are expected to have a minimum of nine years school attendance. Because of these, almost all villages have their own primary school, sub districts tambon
have a school that provides education from age 6 through 14, and all districts amphoe
have secondary schools that cater to children age 12 through 17. A classroom normally has 30 to 40 students in a class with one teacher.
A typical classroom has books, tables, and chairs provided by the government. You can also find other references like encyclopedias, dictionaries, storybooks, and even toys. Some classrooms have their own television where children can watch ETV programs. Meanwhile, most private schools have their own computers and other audiovisual equipment which they can use to teach children. Most schools also have their own toilet and sink.
Compared with other countries, Thailand’s national budget allocates considerable funds for education especially in urban areas. Most schools lack computers and other audiovisual equipment. In some rural areas, children are crammed in one classroom. The lack of textbooks also hinders the delivery of quality education. At present, the Education Minister intends to provide free textbooks and learning materials to Thai children in the duration of their 15 years of free education from the government. This program ensures that learning does not stop within the four walls of the classroom but should also extend at home.
The school year is divided into two semesters. Primary and secondary schools classes begin in May 15 and ends in March. There is a two to three weeks vacation in between the two semesters. Holidays include all public and Buddhist religious holidays as well as other Christian and international holidays like Christmas and New Year.
The school structure has four stages. Prathom 1-3 cater to children from 6 to 8 years old. Prathom 4 through 6 are for children aged 9 to 11. The third level is Matthayom 1-3 for age groups 12 to 14. Children in the primary grades attend school from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. They have recess in the morning and lunch in the middle of the day. Mostly, they bring their own food for snacks and have packed lunch. Others are given money by their parents to buy their food. Children who live near the school go home during lunch time and eat together with family. Then they come back befoe their afternoon class starts. There is a maximum of 30 students to one teacher in a class.
The Ministry of Education realized the value of the English language even though not all children use it as a primary language at home. The government made English as a major core subject in school and compulsory in all grade levels. The use of bilingual instruction is encouraged since 2006 and schools started to offer intensive English language programs. Schools also use textbooks, storybooks, and other reading materials using the English language to help children learn how to speak, read, and write using English.
There are 8 core subjects in the primary level. These are the Thai language, math, science, social science, health and physical education, arts and music, technology, and foreign languages. These subjects prepare young learners for other major subjects offered in the next levels.
The literacy rate in Thailand is very high averaging up to 95%. Majority of children proceed to secondary education since it is provided for free by the government. The school principal is the person of authority in each school. School rules and regulations are strictly implemented and the principal sees to it that there is peace and harmony in school. He or she makes regular visits to each classroom and observe classes. Meanwhile, the classroom teachers are in charge of disciplining their children in class. Likewise, there are rules to follow with corresponding punishments for those who disobey them. Rewards or incentives are given to those who abide by the rules or perform well in class.
Public and private schools have their own specified uniforms. Uniforms are compulsory for all students in both public and private schools. The uniform for boys in the primary and secondary grades include knee-high dark blue, khaki, or black shorts with a white open collar short-sleeved shirt, long socks and brown or black trainers. On the other hand, the girls wear knee-length dark blue or black skirt, and pale white blouse with a loosely tied bow. Girls wear white socks and dark blue or black sandals to match. In some cases, the student’s name, number, and name of the school are embroidered on the shirt or blouse.
After School Activities
Children are encouraged to join in extracurricular activities. There are clubs and organizations which they can be a part of. There are choirs, dance troupes, sports teams, and many more they can participate in. Most children enjoy playing sports and the schools provide them with facilities and trainings for them. There are interschool competitions in sports which children are excited to join. Soccer and basketball are among their favorites and they can play them in school and even in the community. Some children go directly to their private tutors after school to help them with their assignments. Further, there are those who take up music and dance lessons in private institutions. There are also those who go home right away since there are chores that await them. In cases wherein the children have group projects or presentations to do, they work on them and practice together after school.
Student Free Time
Just like other kids, Thai children love to play. During weekends, they play with their neighbors or siblings. They play tag, catch, hide and seek, or play with their toys. They also enjoy watching cartoons or going shopping with their parents. There are many amusement parks in Thailand and kids look forward to spending their free time there with their family.
When children arrive home from school in the evening they will change into their more comfortable clothes and help their parents with the chores. They will fetch water, feed the animals, watch over their younger siblings while mother cooks dinner, or prepare the table. They take a shower before dinner and eat together with other family members. After dinner, they will help clean the table and wash the dishes. Then they will work on their homework or projects and study their lessons. Some children watch television after doing these while there are some who go straight to bed. Most children go to bed at 9 in the evening and are not allowed to sleep late during school days.
Education plays a central role in the lives of children and their families. They believe that education is the key to success. They value education very much and show it by sending their children to school and help them with their assignments. In addition, the Thais are able to preserve their culture through education since their history; traditions, beliefs, and language are reflected in the books they use in school.
As mentioned, arts and music are included in the primary curriculum. These subjects help children discover and develop their talents. They also provide them with opportunities where they can show their creativity and imagination. Art exhibits showcasing the children’s outputs are conducted as well as competitions in drawing, singing, and many more.