Niyom Tongnameang is one of a million teachers who are struggling with debt.
But after joining a programme designed to help teachers oversee their finances, Mr Niyom has learned how to manage his debt while also increasing his savings.
Mr Niyom, a teacher at Wat Don Yor School in Nakhon Nayok's Muang district, said he earns a monthly salary of 15,000 baht, but has to pay about 12,000 baht each month in installment payments for his car and student loans.
The rest of his money is spent on food and other activities, he said, leaving him with no money for savings.
Realising the volatility of his financial future, he recently decided to take part in the "Self-sufficient Teachers" project, sponsored by Kenan Institute Asia and Citibank.
The project aims to improve the financial management skills of teachers at state-run schools in Nakhon Nayok, Nonthaburi and Chon Buri provinces.
Under the project, teachers attend workshops and training sessions that explain to them how to manage their spending and gives them information about savings and investment options.
Wat Don Yor School, which has about 300 students from kindergarten to Mathayom 3 (Grade 9) level, was recently named by the project as a model school in terms of teachers' management of personal finances.
Hassaya Hasitabhan, deputy director of Citibank's corporate communication division, said the programme aims to ensure teachers do not get trapped with debt problems.
"We hope that the participating teachers will also teach their students about the importance of savings," she said.
According to the Ministry of Education, about 1.1 million teachers nationwide are grappling with debt, owing a combined total of over 1 trillion baht.
Another Wat Don Yor School teacher, Pimonpan Puangyanee, said she decided to adjust her lifestyle to spend less and save more after joining the project.
Like Mr Niyom, Ms Pimonpan applied for the government's student loan programme when she was a student, and repays the debt in monthly installments.
"I used to spend a lot of money on clothes and accessories. I had never thought of saving the money. But after taking part in the programme, I've learned to manage my salary so I can pay my debt and save money for my parents," she said.
Somsanit Sreemongkoo, also a teacher at Wat Don Yor, said although she did not have any debt, she had no idea how to manage her savings to create a financially stable future for herself.
The project's financial experts advised her to buy life insurance and bonds to maximise the interest on her savings and also to reduce her tax burden.
Wat Don Yor School director Supaporn Wongreantong said students at the school are also encouraged to save money.
Each class will have a savings account where students can deposit their money and earn interest by the end of the year. The account will be taken care of by their teachers.
About 22 occupation clubs have been set up in the school to help students use their free time wisely. Many students have earned extra money from raising fish, growing mushrooms, selling funeral flowers and performing Thai traditional dance at ceremonies in the locality.
The Kenan Institute Asia's senior adviser Nathinee Kulpichit said the Thai education system will be improved if teachers have no financial problems.
"Teachers' debt problems would affect their teaching and this would put our kids at a disadvantage," she said.
About the author
- Writer: Patsara Jikkham