Thailand’s educational system is unique and diverse, offering a variety of options for expatriate families. The system is divided into several stages, each with its own focus and age range. Whether you’re considering public, private, bilingual, or international schools, it’s important to understand the structure and requirements of Thai education. This guide will provide an overview of the main stages of education in Thailand, the enrollment process for newcomers, language requirements, and the options for bilingual, private, and homeschooling. It will also discuss the typical choices made by expat families and the costs associated with private education.
What are the main stages of education in Thailand?
The Thai education system is divided into four main stages: Pre-primary education (Anuban), Primary education (Prathom), Secondary education (Mathayom), and Higher education. Pre-primary education is for children aged 3-5, primary education is for ages 6-11, secondary education is for ages 12-17, and higher education is for students aged 18 and above. Each stage has a specific focus and curriculum designed to cater to the developmental needs of students at that age.
Pre-primary Education (Anuban)
Pre-primary education in Thailand, also known as Anuban, is for children aged 3-5. This stage focuses on basic skills and social development. It is not compulsory but is widely available, with many kindergartens attached to primary schools.
Primary Education (Prathom)
Primary education, or Prathom, is for children aged 6-11. This stage is compulsory and focuses on basic literacy, numeracy, and Thai culture. Students are assessed through continuous evaluation and end-of-year exams.
Secondary Education (Mathayom)
Secondary education, or Mathayom, is for students aged 12-17. It is divided into lower secondary (Mathayom 1-3) and upper secondary (Mathayom 4-6). Lower secondary education is compulsory, while upper secondary education is optional and divided into academic and vocational streams.
Higher education in Thailand is for students aged 18 and above. It includes undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs. Admission is based on entrance exams and high school performance.
How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?
Newcomers can enroll their children in Thai schools by submitting an application to the school of their choice. The required documents typically include the child’s birth certificate, passport, previous school records, and health records. Some schools may also require an entrance exam or interview.
My children are still learning Thai, can they enroll in a public school?
Yes, children who are still learning Thai can enroll in public schools. However, they may face language barriers as the medium of instruction in most public schools is Thai. Some schools offer additional Thai language support for non-native speakers.
Are there public bilingual schools?
Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Thailand. These schools offer instruction in both Thai and English, making them a good option for expat families. Admission is based on entrance exams and interviews.
What types of private schools are common in Thailand?
Private schools in Thailand include international schools, bilingual schools, and religious schools. International schools follow foreign curriculums, while bilingual schools offer instruction in both Thai and English. Religious schools, such as Buddhist or Catholic schools, incorporate religious education into their curriculum.
Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?
Many expats in Thailand choose to send their children to private schools, particularly international schools. These schools offer a familiar curriculum and language of instruction, making the transition easier for expat children.
How expensive are Private schools in Thailand?
Private school fees in Thailand can vary widely, with international schools being the most expensive. Fees can range from 200,000 to over 1 million Thai Baht per year, depending on the school and the grade level.
Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Thailand?
Yes, homeschooling is legal in Thailand. However, families must follow the Thai curriculum and register with the Ministry of Education. Homeschooled children are also required to take the same exams as public school students.
May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Thailand?
Yes, online schooling is an option for families living in Thailand. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and that the curriculum meets the requirements of your home country if you plan to return in the future.