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International Schools in Thailand Ready for AEC

April 26, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

The private sector is seeking to establish more international schools in Thailand in order to be ready for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and cope with the liberalization of education services.

The Secretary-General of the Office of the Private Education Commission, Mr. Bundit Sriputtangul, expects that the private sector will apply for the setting of at least 10 international schools across Thailand in 2014. The number will represent an increase of 100 percent, compared to only four proposals in 2013.

From January to March 2014, the Office of the Private Education Commission received seven proposals seeking to set up international schools here. Out of this number, two are kindergartens, to be opened in Bangkok. The other five are primary and secondary schools, each to be established in Chumphon, Udon Thani, Surat Thani, Samut Prakan, and Phitsanulok. Investment in each school is 20 million baht.

Most of these schools are based on the curriculums in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Singapore. Emphasis is placed on three languages, namely Thai, English, and Chinese, as well as thinking skills for school children.

There are currently 141 international schools in Thailand. The arrival of AEC in 2015 is a major factor leading to significant growth of Thailand’s international education, as both parents and students are paying more attention to international programs. When the ASEAN Community is in place in late 2015, there will be a free flow of skilled labor within the ASEAN region, and foreign investors are likely to invest more in this region. The education sector, therefore, needs to prepare for the new situation.

According to the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2014, conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce, 33 percent of the respondents believe that finding adequate space at international educational institutions will be a significant problem over the next one to three years, with respondents in Laos reporting the highest level of concern, at 47 percent, followed by those in Myanmar, at 43 percent, and Singapore, at 41 percent. Respondents in Brunei Darussalam reported the lowest level of concern, at 9 percent, followed by Thailand, at 20 percent, and Cambodia, at 21 percent.

During past decades, international education has become a growing business in Thailand, given the free flow of cross-border education. Thousands of Thai students study abroad, especially at the university level. At the same time, Thailand also welcomes foreign students and offers strong support for foreign universities wishing to establish campuses and branches in Thailand.

The country has set a target to become an international education hub in the ASEAN region. It has also worked out a strategy to encourage international students to come to study in Thailand, which offers many fields of study and lower costs than in other major countries.

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