The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has recommended a new budget-allocation approach for the country’s education sector, after extensive research confirms inequalities “rage on” despite massive expenditures.
“It’s time we embrace the equity-based budgeting,” EEF assistant manager Kraiyos Patrawart said at a recent seminar.
Co-organised by the EEF, the Thammasat University, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), and the World Bank, the event went deep into Thailand’s educational expenditure.
“Our research has found that inequality has raged on, affecting both educational opportunities and quality,” said Thammasat University’s lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Chaiyuth Punyasavatsut, in his capacity as research head of the project to develop a resource management system for students’ healthcare and education.
The project’s team conducted the research in collaboration with the EEF and ThaiHealth.
The research showed that Thailand’s educational expenditure increased between 2008 and 2016. Two years ago, the country’s education budget was Bt878.87 billion. The figure accounted for 6.1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), significantly higher than 5.2 per cent in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Established since 1948, the OECD has 36 member countries – all developed nations – including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
“In Thailand, the educational budget has accounted for one fourth of the state expenditure,” Chaiyuth said.
He blamed poor resource allocation for many problems in the country’s educational sector.
Educational expenses in low-income families take 22 per cent of their total income. In rich families, educational expenses take just about 6 per cent of their income.
“This means the poor shoulder a relatively bigger burden,” Chaiyuth said.
He pointed out that in-depth analyses of the country’s educational budget also revealed that just about 30 per cent of the government’s educational budget went directly to children.
“With educational expenses weighing heavily on poor families, many children have dropped out of schools,” he said.
Chaiyuth agreed with the equity-based budgeting, which was advocated by the EEF.
“This new approach will focus on actual needs, reduce inequality, and save the government budget,” he added.
Kraiyos said the current budgeting allowed big gaps to exist in budget allocation.
“The budget-per-student in some provinces is three times higher than that of other provinces,” he said.
He said this is partly because of the concentration of teachers in urban zones. Most of the state budget for education has been used as wages for teachers and educational personnel.