A Guide to the Thai Education System
If you are an expat with children and you are thinking about working in Bangkok, this article will help you to gain a better understanding of the system of education that they have in Thailand. As you may already be aware, English is not widely spoken outside of the tourist areas of Thailand, mainly because Thai children are taught all subjects in their native tongue, with English a subject they study for about 5 hours per week, which does nothing to help with natural English language use.
Thai Government Schools
The average Thai child would study at a government school, which is free aside from uniforms and study equipment, and this is very much rote learning, with 50+ children in a class, ranging from Prathom 1-6, which is the Thai equivalent of Primary school, then the secondary years, Mathayom also run from 1-6. Thai students that study at government schools generally have a poor ability to speak English, unless one of the parents is a foreigner, and with huge classes, students hardly receive any individual attention.
Thai Private Schools
There are many private schools in Thailand, which include schools that teach all subjects in Thai, and a few that teach only in English, which are the top-rated private schools that teach the Thai curriculum in the English language, with a mixture of Thai. There are private schools that run bilingual programs, with a mixture of Thai and English language, and these are very popular among Thai families, as the standard of education is significantly higher than in state run schools.
Obviously, the best form of education available, and there are private schools in Bangkok that are international schools, which are there primarily to cater for the children of diplomats and expat managers, using either a British or American curriculum, and while tuition fees are high, the majority of expat parents have the school fees paid by their employer. Middle-class and wealthy Thai families prefer to send their children to international schools, mainly for the English language acquisition, and they would then study in a foreign university to complete their education.
Colleges & Universities
The Thai people are very studious and the majority of Bangkok students would go on to study in a technical college for 2-3 years, while others enter universities, looking to graduate with a BA. For some Thai employees, studying part time to get their MBA is very popular, as this would result in a better salary, and a select few will carry on and take their PhD in their chosen field. Once a student has a BA, they will receive a minimum salary that currently is set at 15,000 baht per month, and many families will sacrifice to send their elder child to university, as they know this will give them a higher salary.
If you are planning to bring your family to live in Bangkok, the international school program is highly recommended, as the standard is the same as in the UK or the US.