Increasingly fierce competition from the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) could drive between 10 and 30 per cent of Thai private schools out of business, a study has suggested.
Conducted by the Office of the Private Education Commission and the Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat University, the study seeks to assess impacts from the upcoming AEC.
During the AEC era, ASEAN nations will liberalise their educational market.
According to the study, while international schools, demonstration schools under the supervision of universities, and Christian schools in Thailand boast high standards and look set to compete well in the AEC, many other schools on Thai soil are clearly not in the same position.
The study has thus concluded that a sizeable number of schools would find it hard to stay competitive and decide to call it quits.
The findings from the study were the highlight of an academic seminar yesterday.
Future Innovative Thailand Institute's president Surin Pitsuwan emphasised it was necessary for Thailand to improve its educational quality and bring its education system more on par with world standards.
"At the same time, efforts must [be made to] preserve Thai identity," said Surin, a former secretary- general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, during a Cabinet meeting yesterday, urged agencies to improve higher secondary education so children will have vocational options such as hospitality services, commerce, tourism - to reduce the time they had to spend competing in academic exams.
He also suggested that private universities should adjust tuition fees so more students can study with them, graduate and get jobs. He said the Labour Ministry would keep a list of students who will soon graduate and it could be sent straight to the job market.
"This year, I also plan to have graduates - who cannot yet find a job - be trained in commerce, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)-related services and other short-term courses in railways or water engineering," Prayut said.
Many companies were talking with the government about projects and were in agreement that any company investing in Thailand would use Thai labour, tools and materials.