ABOUT 600,000 “very poor” students will soon receive an extra Bt800 per semester from the state, as the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) is stepping in to help reduce the educational disparities.
The extra subsidy will be handed out from next month onwards, according to the joint plan of the EEF and the Office of Basic Education Commission |(Obec). “The EEF has agreed to provide financial help on top of the financial support we normally give to students from cash-strapped families,” Obec secretary-general Boonrux Yodpheth said yesterday after his agency signed a cooperation agreement with EEF. At present, Obec offers financial support to nearly 1.7 million poor students across the country.
If they are at the primary-education level, they receive Bt500 per semester from Obec. At secondary level, they receive Bt1,500. However, as surveys have discovered that some 600,000 students are very poor, the EEF plans to provide an extra Bt800 per semester to these students.
EEF manager Supakorn Buasai said his fund would cover very poor students from Prathom 1 to Mathayom 3 levels. “We will use the Bt1.6 billion budget to subsidise their travel and living costs during their studies,” he said.
“Moreover, we intend to help them with the development of life skills and occupational skills, and food.”
According to him, schools will submit the list of very poor students to Obec and EEF by early next month.
“After that, class teachers of those students will have to visit their homes with local leaders to determine whether they are really very poor,” Supakorn said. He expected the EEF to start paying these students via their schools around December 15.
“After that, we expect to see evidence of reimbursement and a student-care plan. “For example, schools receiving the budget should provide proof that the money can be used to keep children in class throughout their semester,” he said.
Although Thailand offers free education to its citizens, some children leave schools because their families are too poor to cover related expenses.