Poor Thai households earning as little as 34 baht/day post-Covid-19
Educational opportunities for Thai children from poor families are falling, a recent study has found, with extremely low-income families with school-aged children earning just 1,039 baht per month on average, or 34 baht per day in 2023.
This rate is way below the earnings of poor households under the international poverty standard of US$ 2.15 or around 80 baht per day, said Kraiyos Patrawart, managing director of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), which conducted the study.
He added that this number reflects a drop from the 2019 statistics, before the Covid-19 pandemic, in which the poorest Thai families with school-aged children were earning 1,250 baht per month.
“The Thai economy has yet to fully recover across all sectors post-pandemic while inflation is still high,” he said. “These factors have accelerated the educational inequality among Thai children.”
He said that children from poor families are already struggling to go to school as they have little or no allowance for transport and food.
“Without assistance from the authorities, these children could become a lost generation, unable to access proper education and miss the opportunity to maximise their potential,” he said.
Kraiyos stressed that the government must act fast in reducing educational inequality and developing human capital, as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) under the 13th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2023-2027) will soon reach their deadlines and Thailand is at risk of missing the goals.
“Investing in human development is also a key to sustainable economic expansion,” he said. “With the help of proper education, members of low-income families could maximise their earnings and become middle to high-income earners, contributing more to the country’s taxation base and its economic stability.”
Kraiyos cited Unesco’s estimation that Thailand’s GDP could grow by as much as 3% if it could eliminate educational inequality.
So far in 2023, EEF has provided scholarships to over 1.24 million students from extremely poor families but estimates that there could be around 1.8 million students in this group.
The number of extremely poor students in Thailand was well below one million in 2020, said Kraiyos.
“Despite the government’s 15 years free-education scheme, these children are still having trouble staying in school due to family expenses, no food and transport allowance, lack of homes or having to move due to parents’ jobs,” he added.