By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA
“Its roles, after all, will change,” commented Asst Professor Athapol Anunthavorasakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Education and director of the Thai Civic Education Centre.
He was speaking yesterday after the Equitable Education Fund Act was promulgated in the Royal Gazette on Sunday. Under the act, QLF operations, assets, rights, liabilities, obligations and staff will be transferred to the Equitable Education Fund. The QLF board and manager will operate as the fund’s and board manager until they are replaced by a new selection process.
The Equitable Education Fund is being established with a Bt1 billion start-up fund and core mission of reducing educational inequality in Thailand. It is also set to receive an additional annual budget from the government plus money from the Government Lottery Office, as deemed appropriate by the Cabinet.
Among its founding objectives are to provide financial help to underprivileged children and youth; to help the underprivileged acquire vocational skills for their livelihood, to conduct research for teacher and learner development, and to conduct research in support of human-resource development.
Athapol said QLF, which is now operating under the Thai Health Promotion Fund, must stop working alone entity once it becomes a part of the Equitable Education Fund.
“It must then work in collaboration with government agencies,” he said.
He added that it would also be necessary for the Equitable Education Fund to prepare clear data for decision making.
“It should be noted that at present, several agencies have different sets of data regarding children in need of help,” he said.
According to Athapol, since the Equitable Education Fund will have to reach out to underprivileged children and deliver help, its approach is different from the Student Loan Fund Office.
“That’s why it needs to have really clear information. The Student Loan Fund Office differs as it can check children’s information when applications arrive,” he said.
Dr Pumsaran Tongliemnak, an analyst at the Education Ministry, said the fund would operate on top of work done by his ministry.
“I believe the fund will need to focus on monitoring to ensure efficiency,’ he said.
QLF manager Supakorn Bua-sai said the fund’s board would convene its first meeting on June 19.
“It will have to prepare a budget plan for the Cabinet to consider,” he said, “So, I think the fund will start its operation in the 2019 fiscal year”.
The 2019 fiscal year starts on October 1 this year.
Asked about the QLF’s role in the fund, Supakorn said the QLF would for now help in preparing for the fund’s launch.
“For example, apart from the budget plan, we will also draw up its strategies,” he said.
He said the Cabinet was expected to establish the board for the fund within 60 days.