How schools are funded is key to implementing reforms, seminar hears
A change in Thailand’s budgeting approach will help bring real reforms to the education sector, the Thailand Development Research Institute says.
“The current budgeting method does not encourage schools to improve their quality,” TDRI president Somkiat Tangkitvanich said at a recent seminar.
He was speaking at a TDRI-led seminar on “Educational Resources Management for the Better Educational Quality” on Wednesday. It was held in collaboration with the Education Ministry, the World Bank and the Quality Learning Foundation.
Somkiat said some schools were being granted the same amount of funding or sometimes even more despite their drop in quality. Hence, he said, a change in the budgeting format as recommended by World Bank researchers would prove to be a crucial tool in implementing proper reform.
In the new approach, schools’ educational results, students’ financial and social status, as well as the size of schools would be taken into account when calculating budgets.
“With this approach, small schools in remote areas would be granted a bigger budget than a school in town,” Somkiat said.
Dilaka Lathapipat from the World Bank said a study on the cost of education and calculation of government subsidies showed that the size of a class significantly affected the cost.
“Smaller classrooms are usually more costly,” he said, explaining that the smaller a school is, the lower its quality and higher the cost.
At present, there are about 13,000 small schools across the country and only about 44 per cent of them are under the supervision of the Office of the Basic Education Commission.
To improve the quality of these schools, Dilaka recommended that a network be created so small schools in the same neighbourhood can organise classes.
“This way, they can share resources and have specialised teachers for all subjects,” he said, adding that each network should ensure they have between 20 and 29 students per class.
Dilaka cited the Kangjan Model, under which four local schools about 3 to 4 kilometres apart in Loei’s Pak Chom district created a network to improve the quality of their classes. Under the new set-up, each school is assigned specific grades starting from kindergarten to Prathom 6. For instance, the Ban Khok Wao School is responsible for Grades 3 and 4, while the Pal Mang Sorn School oversees Kindergarten 1 and 2.
Since this network was set up, the Prathom 6 students in the district have been achieving higher O-Net (Ordinary National Education Test) scores. For instance, their O-Net score in Thai language have risen from 29.76 in 2010 to 49.15 in 2011, while their O-Net score in mathematics have increased from 26.15 in 2010 to 53.92 in 2011.
Dilaka also recommended that schools be allowed to manage themselves and seek funding based on their needs. “Schools need independence when it comes to human-resource management,” he said.
Somkiat agreed, saying schools really should be able to hire their own teaching staff.
Budget (excluding funds for facilities)
From Office of Basic Education Commission Bt196,496 million
Needed based on World Bank calculation Bt266,902 million
Recommended by the World Bank if students’ average O-Net scores are to be higher Bt285,801 million
Allocated by Office of Basic Education Commission Bt282,881 million
Needed based on the World Bank calculation Bt269,526 million
Recommended by the World Bank if students’ average O-Net scores are to be higher Bt288,549 million
Source: World Bank